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City OKs smaller sized units

The City of North Vancouver has agreed to reduce the minimum unit size in apartment and condo buildings.

The City of North Vancouver has agreed to reduce the minimum unit size in apartment and condo buildings.

Following a public hearing, council voted July 15 to change the minimum size requirements that currently range from 450 square feet to 850 square feet, to 400 square feet for all unit types, regardless of the number of bedrooms.

"They work in most places, so that's the key," said Mayor Darrell Mussatto. "I don't think any developer is going to build a unit that's 400 square feet for three bedrooms. That would be pretty crazy. That would be Hong Kong style."

Though most of council approved of the changes, there was some opposition.

"Until somebody proves to me that you can make 400 square feet work as a three bedroom facility, I can't support that," said Coun. Rod Clark.

Coun. Pam Bookham said the current standards in place for minimum sizing serve the community well and are not detracting potential developers.

"I think we need to make sure we balance these kinds of innovative housing forms (with) standards that ensure mobility," said Bookham. "I fear that we are losing that balance by abandoning those standards."

The public was also not keen on the changes being made to minimum sizing.

"I cannot comprehend how a three-bedroom unit can comfortably be constructed at 400 square feet and how that can be livable," said Kerry Morris, an East 14th Street resident, addressing council at the public hearing. "I do recognize that affordability is an issue. My concern is that this would leave buildings that are today older in nature and comfortable places for existing North Vancouver residents subject to attack by (developers)."

George Pringle, a West 6th Street resident, addressed council about the potential strain the change could put on rental units.

The city's rental stock could dwindle as a result of the change, according to Pringle.

The original regulations on minimum size were put in place in 1975. The changes are meant to take the changing market and affordability into consideration.

Council also approved changes to the number of boarders allowed in a residence. Currently up to two boarders are allowed in a single-family home. The changes mean two boarders would be allowed in any home, whether it's a single-family house or an apartment.

The city also created a new definition for lock-off units.

These will now be defined as any living quarters that include a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom that are separated from the rest of the residence by a lockable door but are accessible from the outside. The city does not allow lock-off units.