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Townhouses added to residential/commercial districts in Didsbury

Row houses, sea cans also included in Didsbury's amended land use bylaw
didsbury-news

DIDSBURY - Council has approved an amendment to the land use bylaw adding several new discretionary uses in residential/commercial districts, including townhouses and row houses.

The move came by way of motions following a public hearing at a recent, regularly scheduled council meeting, held in person and on YouTube.

The new discretionary uses are dwelling, row house; dwelling, stacked townhouse; dwelling townhouse; shipping container (also known as a sea can) small; and shipping container large.

The land use bylaw defines townhouses as “dwellings that are side by side, share a wall and have common yards that are shared by all residents” and dwelling, stacked townhouse as a dwelling “where the townhouses are stacked on top of each other, each with their own front door and private outdoor space.”

The bylaw defies row houses as “dwellings that are side by side, share a wall and have private entry and their own front and back yards.”

Secondary suites are not permitted in townhouses, stacked townhouses or row houses.

The bylaw defines a shipping container small as a “a painted steel container that is 2.6 metres (8.53 feet) in height and under six metres (18.685 feet) in length, and a shipping container as large as 2.6 metres (8.53 feet) in height and over six metres (18.685 feet) in length.”

Being made to bring the land use bylaw into alignment with the municipal development plan, the amendment comes with additional regulations and site requirements, including minimum parcel sizes for townhouses: interior units 180 square metres and exterior units 220 square metres, or 1.3 times the building floor area, including all floors but excluding the basement, whichever is greater.

Additional regulations regarding shipping containers include that the containers “shall be screened through screening mechanisms such as landscaping and fencing from any road to the satisfaction of the development authority," that the containers “shall not be unsightly and shall be finished to the satisfaction of the development authority” and that the containers “shall not be permitted on a lot that is abutting a residential district along the rear property line.”

During the public hearing, chief administrative officer Ethan Gorner said adding the new land uses will provide flexibility to developers while retaining the purpose of the district to offer a mix of residential and commercial uses.

The addition of shipping containers provides additional flexibility for residents and/or business owners to utilize an affordable storage option for their properties and/or businesses, he said.

“This all came about as we were looking at areas that we felt could use some more flexibility to be more helpful to developers,” said Gorner. “One of the things that has been identified is the need for flexibility in our housing options in the town, as well as looking for ways to be helpful to the various types of housing visions that developers may have.

“The purpose of this is to better fit what the district is for, which is to provide a transition between commercial and adjacent residential districts, and it is to add flexibility in housing varieties that can be considered by developers.”

Coun. Dorothy Moore said the amendment “lends flexibility that we were hoping to have more of, to make our land use more friendly.”  

No one spoke in favour or against the proposed amendment during the 20-minute public hearing.

Following the hearing, council passed second and third reading of the bylaw amendment. The amendment received first reading on Oct. 11.

Coun. John Baswick did not attend the Nov. 8 council meeting.