One Saanich resident has started a petition to abolish the bylaw that limits the number of unrelated occupants in a home.
The issue of unrelated occupancy limits has been a controversial topic in Saanich for more than a year. During a council meeting at the end of January that was dominated by discussions relating to the restrictions on unrelated occupants, council voted to send the option to increase the limit from four to six to a public hearing.
After seeing a petition to oppose the increase created in early February, Philip Marciniak, a recent Camosun College graduate, decided to start his own on Change.org in support of doing away with the occupancy limits based on family status.
Did you know it’s illegal for 4 unrelated people to live together in Saanich? I’f you live with roommates or any other arrangement with 4 or more people please consider signing this petition!https://t.co/52W3HoSvm5
— Philip Marciniak (@PhilipMarciniak) February 16, 2020
Marciniak pointed out that the “outdated” bylaw limiting the number of unrelated occupants allows homes to be underutilized and “unfairly targets students, young adults and those living in communal housing arrangements.”
He feels that in a housing crisis, communal living should be encouraged. While he would like to see the bylaw abolished entirely and have occupancy limits set based on fire safety regulations, Marciniak supports the amendment that would increase the current limit to six.
“Family is not restricted to blood,” Marciniak said, pointing out that he owns a home and rents rooms to four individuals who he considers family despite being unrelated. “Some adults enjoy living in a communal space.”
The petition went live on Feb. 16 and in less than a day, 200 signatures had been added. By Feb. 20, more than 550 supporters had signed.
The opposing petition was started by Vernon Lord, treasurer of the Camosun Community Association, who feels that allowing more unrelated people to cohabitate is unnecessary and “will cause irreparable harm to ‘single-family dwelling’ zones.”
On Feb. 20, Lord’s online petition had more than 360 signatures.
Marciniak plans to present his petition to council at the Feb. 24 meeting and again at the public hearing where Lord will also be submitting his petition.
Although no date has been confirmed for the public hearing where the bylaw amendment will be discussed, Coun. Zac de Vries told Saanich News he anticipates that it will be set for a Saturday in March.