City councillors discussed at length the positives and negatives of proposed bylaw changes, before voting 4 to 2 in favour of reducing the minimum lot size for residential areas.
The bylaw states that the minimum lot size is now 325 square metres, down from 460 sq. m. “This is a significant bylaw and it will affect the whole city,” said Bob Smith, city manager. “The amendment comes because of the result of huge increases to the costs of infrastructure to service these lots, and also the request is coming from land developers.”
“We have found that there is a need for lower priced housing, to try to get people into homes and maybe increase our inventory. This is one way that other communities have been doing it, and we have found that developers coming into the area are wanting to do in Weyburn,” said Debra Button, Mayor of Weyburn.
Coun. Winston Bailey questioned if there were any restrictions to the amount of reduced lots allowed for new developers, or if existing lots could be subdivided into two smaller lots.
“Some people are taking this as all our lots are now going to be 30-feet wide,” said Bailey.
“I think there is a definite need (for smaller lots), but I don’t feel that it would be consistent to allow smaller lots in many of our neighbourhoods,” said Bailey, referring to allowing existing lots to be subdivided.
“My understanding is that this bylaw was to allow some flexibility for new subdivisions, where it will be preplanned,” added Coun. Stephanson. “I understand that from a cost prospective and economic reasoning, this is why we want to do this.”
Coun. Michel thought that the bylaw was not clear enough for the public. “I think we are making a mistake to rezone the existing lots, we sold the people these lots and we should leave them as is.”
“In the old neighbourhoods, if you have a large lot you can subdivide that lot, but there was some concern with that in council,” said Button. “Any resident wanting to subdivide their lot would still have to make an application to City Council, and they will decide if it is appropriate or not appropriate.”
Besides the reduced lot sizes, the City of Weyburn also approved adding “secondary suites” to the bylaw, which allows for a subordinate, self-contained dwelling unit within a detached dwelling unit.
“The secondary suites have very specific regulations, and residents are urged to look at it very closely before considering it,” said Coun. Bill Rudachyk.
“I think that any developer worth their weight will create a mix of higher-end homes, and the smaller lots, the more affordable homes,” said Button. “That is the way to go and that is the best way to build a community.”
City Council also approved a bylaw to amend lot use in the Souris Valley grounds to residential for the new subdivision.
Nicor Developments is developing new lots on the Souris Valley grounds. The rezoning of the area includes both R2 (residential) and R4 (residential), to allow for future residential and multifamily developments.
The Weyburn Housing Advisory Committee reported that there is interest from Habitat for Humanity, Nicor Group and ministerial communities of Weyburn to see a Habitat for Humanity project started in Weyburn.
“We are very hopeful that in the future we will see two Habitat for Humanity homes come to Weyburn,” said Button. “We are in discussion with them, and the ministerial will spearhead it with Coun. Bailey as the city’s rep.”
The Housing Advisory Committee also received information on the Sask. Housing Co-operatives. Discussion took place over whether or not there is a need for a co-operative in Weyburn.
A representative from the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association is willing to come to Weyburn to do a presentation for the Housing Advisory Committee. More research will be done into required criteria and necessary funding.