Community Plan

Castlegar's residential neighbourhoods accommodate over 2,500 homes. Approximately 70% of the housing stock is single family homes and the remainder are multiple family, mobile homes or other dwelling types. It is evident that, throughout the community, there are numerous secondary suites which were built into single family homes, often without approval and in contravention of previous zoning bylaws.

An increased proportion of seniors, couples having children later in life, and families generally having fewer children, has contributed to a gradual decrease in the average household size. This has, and will continue to have, a major impact on the form and location of necessary housing accommodation in the community.

The City intends to provide a full range of residential opportunities for all citizens regardless of financial status, age or household composition. The City's main goals are:

  • to provide regulatory structure that allows an adequate supply of affordable, rental and special needs housing,
  • to designate sufficient lands for residential developments, and
  • to encourage re-development of older residential areas for higher density.

Since 1988, the average price of housing lots has increased by more than 100% following the province-wide trend, restricting the adequate supply of low-cost housing.

The most prevalent strategy to increase the supply of affordable housing might be raising the density within developed areas. In order to provide affordable, quality housing to all income levels and age groups:

  • redevelopment of older residential areas into moderately dense new housing is encouraged where financially feasible,
  • secondary suites are allowed on single family residential lots,
  • multiple residential developments are permitted in some commercial zones as well as in residential zones, and
  • the development cost charge rates for special needs housing such as congregate care housing have been reduced.

The City will also attempt to manage residential growth in a way that minimizes environmental impacts and protects the existing quality of life. It is not desirable to keep too many vacant serviced lots for an excessive length of time. In order to maintain an optimum balance between housing demand and supply, new green-field residential subdivision should be discouraged until the current inventory of serviced lots becomes less than three years' projected demand. The number of lots created at each phase of a subdivision and the timing will be closely monitored.

Secondary suites provide a cost-effective and easy method of producing rental housing without significant government expenditures. At the same time, income from suites can help soften the impact of high mortgage payments and thus create opportunities for more people to become homeowners. However, to minimize any negative impact, a strict restriction should be imposed on the maximum number of bedrooms permitted in a secondary suite, and the quality of property maintenance. It is commonly known that many illegal secondary suites' were built without permit to provide an affordable alternative for many Castlegar residents. The new Zoning Bylaw 800, which allows a secondary suite on a single residential lot, has been adopted, allowing the City to establish a policy on how to legalize and record the existing non-permitted suites.

Dwelling units on the upper floors of commercial buildings are another source of housing for low income residents. This type of combined use is allowed in Downtown Castlegar, where amenities are within walking distance.

Lands designated for residential uses should be serviced with a community water system, a sewer system and an appropriate storm drainage system. The development pattern should be in a manner which maximizes the use of the existing infrastructure, until extensions are absolutely necessary. Residential developments should avoid fronting major roads where possible, and take advantage of surrounding natural attributes such as vegetation, topography and viewpoints.

Neighbourhood amenities such as churches, neighbourhood parks, corner stores, day care centres, schools and utility buildings and related structures may be permitted within residential areas provided that any negative impact can be minimized.

Low Density Residential

Low Density Residential (LDR) area includes mostly single family dwellings and a small number of duplexes and low density multiple family residential buildings. Up to 20 dwelling units are allowed to be developed on each hectare of land. The area of land used to determine the maximum density does not include the area set aside for park or open space. A residential building could be as high as three storeys above ground.

The City's priority in dealing with increasing housing demand is to encourage residential in-fill development and secondary suites. Yet, such in-fill developments and secondary suites should not exceed the maximum density of LDR as stated above.

New green-field subdivisions always bring higher expectations to many home buyers because of better standards for new works and services. The community anticipates that Phase 1 of the proposed Riverbend Subdivision and Phase 2 of Emerald Green Subdivision are the most probable developments of the near future.

While a Low Density Residential area should consist predominantly of single-family detached housing units, a limited number of low-rise apartments and townhouses may be included provided that overall density is not more than 20 dwelling units per gross hectare. Integration of single and multi-family residential can be facilitated as long as the two housing types can address landscaping, traffic conflicts and utility servicing. A multi-unit dwelling should maintain the same character as a single family dwelling by avoiding monotonous wall masses and complementing the natural topography. An existing or new single family residential subdivision could include adequately sized neighbourhood commercial developments as long as they are strategically located and avoid any conflict.

Residential Area Near Downtown

Recently, a growing number of people in North America began to realize that a downtown, because of its proximity to many commercial and cultural amenities, could offer a good residential opportunity. Through redevelopment, revitalization and a general move to upscale housing, the living environment of a downtown area could be improved, property values will be increased, and nuisance factors could be reduced if not totally removed.

Despite specific land use designations on the Land Use Map and land use policies, the City supports, in principal, integrated multiple land uses in the existing residential area near Downtown Castlegar as long as:

  • one specific development does not 'dwarf' the rest by dominating in size or by generating excessive traffic volume;
  • each neighbourhood maintains an acceptable density;
  • conflict arising from different land uses is minimized by selective positioning, buffering and restriction of development scale.

While no density limitation is imposed to the residential development, each dwelling unit should be provided with adequate off-street parking spaces, contrary to the commercial buildings in Downtown.

Multiple Residential

The areas designated for Medium Density Residential (MDR) are either existing multiple housing complexes or some single family residential neighbourhoods which are considered appropriate for redevelopment to multiple housing. Particular attention and support for town-house development should be given to the strip along Columbia Avenue between 24th Street and 33rd Street including the 'Re-plot Area'.

The design of townhouses, apartments, or condominiums is expected to be unique and compatible to the surrounding nature and existing buildings. The access road to a large multiple housing complex from the nearest arterial road should not be through a large low density residential area. Vehicle and pedestrian access to these developments from a road should be safe and convenient. The City may require a traffic impact study before issuing the building permit for multiple family residential developments that exceed 20 dwelling units.

Apartments and townhouses could be combined with commercial outlets in Downtown Castlegar and the Highway Commercial area. The combination of multiple family housing with commercial uses should be designed in a manner to create an acceptable residential environment.

Up to 80 dwelling units are allowed to be developed on each hectare of land. The area of land used to determine the maximum density does not include the area set aside for park or open space. A multiple residential building could be as high as four storeys above ground.