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West Vancouver council took a step toward encouraging coach houses in the district Monday, with Mayor Michael Smith urging developers to now take the lead with proposals.
“We really need the development community to step up with some projects,” Mayor Smith said, following a unanimous council vote in support of exploring the infill housing option.
But the step is a small one and — as is apparent in the wording of the housing report that council merely voted to receive — it’s one of very many small steps in a long process.
Council received the “Transitioning to an Investigation of the Potential of Coach Houses in West Vancouver” report Monday night, a report with enough non-committal qualifiers in its title to fuel the frustration of some councillors at the bureaucratic pace of the coach house initiative.
“I’m concerned about death by study,” said Coun. Craig Cameron. “I would like to see some action, I would like to see things built. Not an endless surround of studies that go nowhere.”
Councillors Cameron and Michael Lewis acknowledged the apparent concerns of some residents that coach houses could change the character of their neighbourhoods. But Cameron said the incremental introduction of infill housing is likely the only way to dispel those fears.
Fellow councillor Nora Gambioli agreed.
“We already engaged the community a long time ago with neighbourhood housing and neighbourhood character study groups and everything,” Gambioli said. “That committee suggested we need coach houses and I don’t think we need to spend a lot of time and money in going back and consulting again.
“My point is we should lead on this. Let’s do it. Let’s make a motion,” she added.
There are, however, a few questions still to be resolved as West Vancouver moves ahead with coach houses. Namely, whether those homeowners who already have a secondary suite in their home can also have a coach house, and whether coach houses should be allowed to be owned separately from the main house, effectively subdividing the lot.