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The bylaw in question, Zoning Bylaw No. 2080, includes changes to Development Permit Area requirements, landscaping requirements and commercial zones. However, it is the residential changes that had the two men up in arms. The bylaw restricts the footprint of small R-1a lots to 80 square metres or approximately 900 square feet.

The allowance of these smaller lots was intended to increase the number of affordable, single-family homes in the community. However, City Planner Kevin Brooks argues that never happened, and it has actually increased the operating costs of the city, like for snow removal.

“There needs to be a greater benefit to the community from allowing these lots to be had,” he said, “for the cost that the City at whole has to put out for the additional snow removal costs occuring in these areas.”

Arlen Brekkaas, who has been a real estate agent for 15 years, and spent the last 10 in land development and construction, told council during the public meeting, that limiting footprint size would be a mistake, and would not encourage affordable housing.

“To legislate that,” he said, “in an attempt to achieve affordable housing, I really think will fail because when you limit what a property can be used for, basically what happens is the interest level drops, developers realize that they can’t do the same things on that lot that they used to be able to do, or if they go into a R-1 zone, they can basically produce a better quality home and put more profit in their pocket at the end of the day.”

He says it’s more efficient to go from a 900 square foot house to a 1,200 square foot one, as although the size is increasing 30 per cent or so, the dollar cost per square foot is less. He suggests the city tackle affordable housing through the densification of the RM-2 zone (Multi-Family High Density) rather than changing control of the R-1a zones.

Trevor Bolin, a fellow real estate agent, also has problems with restricting the footprint of a house, worrying about the mixture in a subdivision.

“I’m dead against the 450 square foot house idea of being allowed, because people don’t go to maximums, they go to minimums when they can.”

Brooks maintained that this is not something that’s being forced on developers, but is simply another option they can use when planning to make the most use of the area.

In the end, the bylaw was passed, with Bolin voting against.

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