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Letter: Potential censuring distracts from pro-affordable housing point

Director had a valid criticism regarding zoning bylaw, says qathet Regional District resident

I believe [qathet Regional District Area B] director Mark Gisborne has a valid criticism regarding the Douglas Bay Road single-family zoning bylaw [“qathet Regional District Board considers censure against director,” November 29].

The potential censuring and sanctioning of Gisborne looks to me like a distraction from the pro-affordable housing point he was trying to make, which the other regional district directors refused to discuss. I’m also concerned that it’s anti-democratic when a majority weaponizes meeting procedures in an effort to squelch a minority perspective that could result in better public policy, as I believe is the case here.

Single-family zoning as proposed by qRD staff limits the number of dwelling units on a given parcel to two, a main dwelling and a separate living space contained within the main dwelling. Gisborne appeared to favour an amendment that would allow additional dwelling units outside the main house, like cottages or tiny homes, if septic requirements could be met.

This seems reasonable, and it’s certainly a perspective worthy of discussion. But because Gisborne called the proposed single-family zoning bylaw “exclusionary,” and as an example he alluded to the overtly racist history of such zoning in the United States (just Google it), he was falsely accused of calling the residents of Douglas Bay Road racists. The point he was making is that single-family zoning is exclusionary because it prevents affordable housing, and that is of particular concern to millennials like Gisborne.

It’s a shame that qRD board of directors’ chair Patrick Brabazon and the board majority would not discuss how low-income residents are affected by this type of single-family zoning. The majority instead pushed ahead with first and second reading of an overly-rigid zoning bylaw that won’t help our region provide more affordable housing, which in turn could also help reduce homelessness.

By the way, as a Texada Island resident, I object to being forced to pay for future enforcement of this mainland zoning bylaw. The Douglas Bay Road zoning bylaw could have been amended so residents of the Douglas Bay Road exclusionary zone would have to pay for enforcement of their own bylaw. This is another point Gisborne tried to make, to no avail.

Tom Read
Van Anda
Texada Island