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City of Powell River staff want modular, mobile home distinction

Bylaw changes recommended in report presented to council by manager of planning services
UPDATES SUGGESTED: City of Powell River staff members have been directed to prepare draft amendments to three bylaws relating to manufactured home definitions and regulations to encourage placement of more manufactured homes in the city.

City of Powell River staff members are suggesting bylaw updates to distinguish between modular and mobile homes.

At the September 12 committee of the whole meeting, manager of planning services Daniella Fergusson outlined a report to council, which stated that factory-built or prefabricated houses include manufactured homes assembled on site. Her report stated that in recent years, staff have received more enquiries from the public about the possibility of building modular housing, however, city bylaws currently discourage that construction.

“The focus of this report is to consider bylaw updates to our official community plan, the zoning bylaw and the building bylaw to distinguish modular housing from mobile homes,” said Fergusson. “The reason being that the bylaws right now lump all manufactured homes together.

“What we would like to do is prepare bylaws that distinguish mobile homes from modular homes so we can encourage more people to bring manufactured housing to Powell River.”

Fergusson said the Manufactured Homes Act deals with mobile homes and also deals with modular homes, which is a different type of manufactured housing, with several sections that are transported to the building site and placed on a regular foundation.

The proposed changes would be, where there is mention of modular housing in the bylaws, mobile homes would be restricted to mobile home sites. She said the intention would be to not restrict manufactured homes to mobile home sites.

“The purpose of the report is to seek direction to change the official community plan and the building bylaw to distinguish mobile homes from modular homes and the recommendation would be that there be public engagement,” said Fergusson.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said the main difference between a mobile home and a modular home is the foundation.

Fergusson said there are a couple of differences. One is that mobile homes have a metal chassis and modular homes do not. She said they are also built to different building code standards.

Councillor Trina Isakson said the proposed changes are not a foregone conclusion and that a proper process needs to be initiated to engage the public.

“It could also be an educational opportunity for people to know the types of suppliers that exist in the province and provide people with the idea that it is possible,” added Isakson.

She said there are not enough people here to build housing on site, so there is an interest by many parties concerned with the affordability crisis, climate crisis and economic crisis to build more off-site housing and then assemble them in place.

“This is a great example of that and supports that movement because it hits a number of really great marks,” said Isakson.

Elliott said she was happy the recommendation came forward.

“We do have a housing crisis and we don’t always have the labour in place to do everything here in Powell River,” said Elliott. “The option of bringing in modular homes and putting them on foundations is an excellent way to build houses. That option is definitely needed in our community.”

The committee directed staff to prepare amendments to the City of Powell River Sustainable Official Community Plan, the City of Powell River Zoning Bylaw and City of Powell River Building Bylaw to distinguish between modular homes and mobile/sectional homes to facilitate modular home construction.

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