Densification destroys neighbourhoods: Day

City council candidate aims to make granny flats, coach houses an election issue

The decision to allow granny flats and coach houses to be built in residential Richmond is the beginning of the end for the city's neighbourhoods.

That's the view of civic election candidate Carol Day, who has vowed to make the topic one of her leading campaign issues.

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This week, city council agreed - as part of the 2041 Official Community Plan (OCP) update - to allow residents to apply to have granny flats and coach houses built in certain Richmond communities on a case-by-case basis.

The move is part of an effort to alleviate affordable housing issues for low and middle-income families and elderly relatives in the city.

"I think this is really important. This is the beginning of the destruction of our neighbourhoods," said Day, currently a Richmond school board trustee.

"It was said a while ago that if we agreed to the densification of the downtown core in Richmond, the neighbourhoods would be left alone.

"You better believe I will be campaigning on this because I know a lot of people that are not happy with it."

Day said she and many others are opposed to the granny flat/coach houses because the neighbourhoods in question

- Burkeville on Sea Island and Edgemere at Steveston Highway and No. 4 Road - don't have the infrastructure to deal with an increase in population.

"I'm talking about schools and community centres. This extra density is not wise," Day said.

"We have to be careful with this, because when (one application for a granny flat) goes through, I'm pretty sure they all will."

For affordable housing solutions, the city should be looking at concepts such as one in Langley, said Day, where a housing development was built to cater solely to low-income families.

"There's this place where people have bought into a housing society and got a property for around $150,000," explained Day.

"There's a restriction on the selling price, to keep it low, and any profit goes back into the housing society to keep the costs of maintenance down.

"One thing's for sure, sacrificing our existing neighbourhoods is not the answer and is not acceptable."

In a recent round of public consultation with the Burkeville and Edgemere residents, both communities came out in favour of the granny flat/coach house idea.

But Day said the process is flawed because of the low open house turnout and survey participation, despite the fact that city staff hand-delivered the public consultation mailouts.

"When you look at the survey results, this is not an accurate number," said Day.

"Forty or 50 people responding does not represent a neighbourhood. There needs to be follow-up mailing, two, three, four letters if need be.

"The city has to understand that people won't worry about things until it directly affects them. People have to be told that, if you don't oppose it, you're actually condoning it."

After collecting and analyzing the data, city staff proposed that granny flats and coach houses be allowed in Burkeville and Edgemere when the property is backed by a lane.

Any planning permission, however, will still be granted on a site-by-site basis through individual rezoning applications.

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