Opposition can’t stop Chilliwack coach home

Despite ardent opposition from local residents, city council approved in principle an application to rezone a workshop to a coach house.

Despite ardent opposition from local residents, city council approved in principle an application to rezone a workshop on Little Mountain to a coach house. The application will go to third reading, after city staff have been assured that the owner has addressed lingering concerns.

Owners Pleun Jan and Sara Jacoba De Koning applied to rezone a secondary building on their 47531 Swallow Crescent property from R1-A (one family residential) to R1-C (one family residential with accessory). This would convert the existing workshop into a coach house, and allow the owners to rent it out.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz said she couldn’t remember the last time there was so much angst over a coach house. In addition to the dozen or so letters of opposition sent to council, a half dozen of De Konings’ neighbours stood at the city council meeting Tuesday night to argue that the owner circumvented city policy by building the coach house in 2009 under the label of a workshop, and is now seeking proper zoning after the fact. A coach house in the neighbourhood would upset the area’s charm by inviting potentially unsavoury renters, the residents argued.

“There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and Mr. de Koning has done things the wrong way. He has shown little regard for our community and city’s bylaws,” said neighbour Robert Reimer.

De Koning acknowledged that he always planned to convert the three-story secondary building into a coach house, but only after his children moved out.

“I built my shop about three years ago because I needed parking for my car, and space for my tools,” he said. “I needed the shop. I didn’t need a coach house at the time. I built with the foresight that one day I would like to rezone. That was four years ago. Now my kids have moved out.”

Using before and after satellite images retrieved from the city’s website, neighbour Susan Pafford said that de Koning removed trees on public parkland that adjoins the property, which has dramatically altered neighbours’ privacy, and worsened the peacefulness of the park.

Other photos showed brown water runoff from the property leaks into the park.

Council agreed to hold a final decision on the application until city staff investigate the source of the runoff, and ensure that all trees removed from public land have been replaced.

De Koning also agreed to consider frosted glass, relocating windows, or planting hedges to restore neighbours’ sense of privacy.

Another issue is that the building is 40 centimetres above the maximum height for its current R1-A zoning, although well below the maximum height for R1-C zoning. This is a common occurrence, said council, because of the difficulty in predicting land level at the time of construction.

“This is something that could have easily happened. It isn’t a deliberate error on the city’s part,” said Getz.

Neighbours fear that a coach house, and the alleged privacy and drainage issues, has decreased their property values.

Looking at existing constructions in the area, builder de Koning believes it is not possible for Little Mountain to become overrun by coach houses, nor that his has negatively affected property values.

The City of Chilliwack has been trying to increase population density in residential neighbourhoods. City council agreed that coach houses, done right, should be encouraged.

Speaking to de Koning, Gaetz said: “Your property is perfect in my view for a coach house. If we are trying to densify, every neighbourhood should take their share of density.”

Councillor Ken Huttema said that de Koning has not violated city bylaws, and that anyone constructing a workshop has the right to apply for rezoning.

“No bylaws have been broken in this process. It’s a process anyone can undertake to do,” he said. “The beauty of this bylaw is that the landowner has to stay on the property…The landowner has the right to ensure good tenants.”



Just Posted

Outages reported the morning of May 18, 2021 by BC Hydro. (BC Hydro map)
Power set to be restored after storm ripped through the Fraser Valley

Biggest outage in Harrison Hot Springs affected more than 1,500 households

Items seized by RCMP during a May 13 raid on Butchart Street. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP seize guns and drugs during raid on Butchart Street property

Police executed a search warrant on a home May 13, arresting one man at the scene

Transit Future Action Plan for Chilliwack and FVRD aimed at increasing services over five years and restoring ridership to pre-COVID levels. (BC Transit)
Future planning for Chilliwack transit aims to restore ridership lost to pandemic

Transit future plan envisions adding peak buses and service hours over next five years

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, at press conference Monday. (Submitted photo)
Crime Stoppers receiving $200K from province for ‘Guns and Gangs’ tip line campaign

Executive director Linda Annis broke the news Monday morning in Surrey

Most Read