Port Coquitlam will stop illegal floodplain suites

More “bonus rooms” to convert to living space in new home construction as Port Coquitlam moves to restrict what can be built on the floodplain.

Owners of massive homes being built in Port Coquitlam’s floodplain will not be allowed to turn downstairs space into rental rooms and suites under the proposed zoning changes.

And a house currently on sale for nearly $3 million in the northeast of the city is an example of a building that would not be allowed to have a large living space on its lower floor if it were built after approval of proposed zoning changes.

The house, located at 3809 Inverness Street, is listed as having nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms.

At the Tuesday, April 5, council meeting, a photo of the Inverness Street home was shown as an example of homes being built with large windows – and the potential for rooms – in a space slightly below ground level where water could seep in during a flood.

If the new amendment passes, rooms built below flood building level — about seven to eight feet above a site’s natural level — are expected to be small — no more kitchens, media rooms or bedrooms.

The space could not be rented out as the rooms would be primarily for storage or the garage.

Areas of the floodplain affected are primarily east of Coast Meridian Road, south of the Coquitlam border, and west of Shaughnessy Street near Colony Farm Regional Park.

The changes would affect about 2,200 properties, or about 18% of those zoned for single-family or duplex development in PoCo.

SMALL ROOMS ALLOWED ON LOWER LEVEL

Here’s what the board is considering:

  • Rooms limited to a lobby (107 square feet), utility room or utility room (75 square feet), and a small crawl space with a floor-to-ceiling height of just five feet; the crawl space cannot have windows or doors
  • An attached garage would be permitted up to a maximum of 495 square feet and the space would be exempt from the calculation of the home’s floor area ratio

Current regulations already limit the types of rooms that can be built at the flooded building level, but since there were no size restrictions, the owners converted the open space into living space and rented them out as mortgage aids .

“Staff experience is that these habitable spaces are easily converted as they are built with full height ceilings, bathrooms, windows and doors. Residents and tenants occupying these spaces are then put at risk,” city ​​planner Bryan Sherrell told council.

Similar changes to limit the size of rooms below building level were put forward three years ago, but the plan was withdrawn for further study after some hindsight.

However, the changes are being made now as Port Coquitlam responds to concerns raised after localized flooding during last November’s heavy rains and the effects of climate change that could increase flood potential.

Mayor Brad West stressed that council should keep an open mind when hearing from the public at a future hearing on the proposed settlement, including whether the laundry room space is too small for washers and dryers. medium sized.

REPRESSION OF ILLEGAL SUITES

But he agreed that people living in the floodplain must be protected.

“I think we have a responsibility and an obligation as a city to ensure that people, often desperate, looking for the kind of housing they can, don’t end up in a place where they and their families are. in danger,” West said.

Com. Glenn Pollock also raised the issue of the enforcement of illegal suites in homes located in the floodplain.

He was told that was not part of this proposal, which is for new construction, however, residents will sometimes call the city if a house in the floodplain is advertised for sale with rental apartments.

The council also discussed the possibility of cracking down on these suites using Section 57 of the Community Charter, which local governments can use as a tool to administer and enforce the BC building code and local community bylaws. construction.

The property listing at 3809 Inverness St. does not mention suites that can be rented in the main house, only in a shed on the property.

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