The anonymous letter placed in our mailboxes illustrates the confusion created among UEL residents due to the lack of communication between the UEL Administration, the Community Advisory Council and UEL Residents.
I believe that residents DO need to bring themselves up to speed with proposed changes in order to make an informed decision. With that in mind, I provide more background and where needed, set the record straight as per the issues raised in the anonymous letter.
- The anonymous letter states that operating a Bed & Breakfast is an approved use of a single family building in the UEL.
Again, that statement is not correct. The current bylaw (on p. 36) does not allow for B&B’s to operate in Area C. (They are also not allowed in Areas A or B.)
- The letter claims that the maximum size of an accessory building in Area C is to be reduced to 425 square feet.
This is simply not correct. The proposed bylaw explicitly says that “every lot shall be entitled to a minimum of 47 square meters of floor space (for an auxiliary building).” This translates into 505.9 square feet, not the 425 square feet claimed in the letter. By comparison, the existing bylaw allows for an accessory building to be at most 500 square feet.
Residents may take comfort knowing that Area C focus group panelists – local residents that assist in the bylaw review - were vigilant in trying to ensure that the proposed changes to quantifiable measures like areas, offsets or heights are not resulting in decreases to that which is allowed to be built.
- Regarding the assertions on the permit process:
With respect to this issue, under the existing bylaw, a project to build or modify a house requires two permits – a development permit, followed by a building permit. The UEL Administration took on the task of updating the building bylaw in order to make this process more straightforward. During the residents’ focus group meeting for Area C, it was proposed that the development permit would not be required if a proposed project was not asking for a variance. The permit procedure in Area C has been often criticized for arbitrary abuse of the existing process. Residents in other UEL areas were less comfortable with removing development permits. It is an important issue and the UEL Administration was asked to carry out a survey of residents in order to help arrive at a consensus for each area.
- The letter appears to support accessory suites within main and accessory buildings.
Focus group participants were divided in their opinions with respect to accessory suites and this issue is identified as one of the two key issues to be included in the survey of UEL residents.
- The concerned property owner pointed out that the administration plans to increase the Development Permit Application Fee from $750 currently, to $20,000:
With respect to that issue, at a November 3rd, 2010 UEL resident focus group meeting with the UEL Manager, the UEL Manager claimed that the cost of processing a development permit application in the UEL is $20,000, although the UEL Administration currently charges $750 for a development permit. (This information is available on the UEL Administration website.)
It is interesting to contrast this cost of $20,000 against the salaries of the UEL staff. Approximately half of the 2.5 million dollars paid in property taxes (p. 6) by UEL residents are spent on salary and overtime of the 15 employees involved in UEL administration. That translates into an average salary of more than $6000 per month. Compare this average salary against the $20,000 proposed change and it suggests that it takes 3 months for a dedicated employee to process a single development permit application. That does not sound reasonable. What is the $20,000 spent on?