The City of Merritt’s zoning bylaw is getting a new look.

The proposed changes are aimed at correcting errors and making the zoning bylaw a more clear and concise document.

Merrittonians will have a chance to give the rewritten bylaw a second look at an open house on Oct. 14.

Last Tuesday, the city held its first open house to showcase the proposed zoning bylaw, and saw about 25 members of the public stop by to view the changes.

City of Merritt planning and development services manager Sean O’Flaherty said there are two components to the bylaw — the reconfigured zone mapping and a rewritten text portion.

Seven zonings would change under the new bylaw.

Along Canford Avenue, there are some houses zoned as a park, which would change to R2 or Residential zoning under the new bylaw.

Fairley Park near Cleasby Street is another area zoned in error. It’s zoned as Residential, but will be rezoned as a P1 for park, while a corner of land along Blair Street and Nicola Avenue will change from City Centre zoning to Service Commercial zoning.

About 25 people stopped by city hall last Tuesday to view some of the proposed changes to Merritt's zoning bylaw, which is expected to come before a public hearing on Oct. 14.

About 25 people stopped by city hall last Tuesday to view some of the proposed changes to Merritt’s zoning bylaw, which is expected to come before a public hearing on Oct. 14.

A chunk of land behind Burgess Road would be rezoned from Residential to Institutional and Public Use land, and a church along Charters Street will have its zoning changed from Commercial to Institutional and Public Use. Also, a commercially zoned area at the end of Voght Street — across the bridge to Collettville — will change from Commercial to Residential zoning.

The city bought and fenced off a piece of property from School District 58, where the Kengard Learning Centre is located, and under the proposed bylaw, that portion is being rezoned from P1 for school zoning to P3 for public utility.

“A lot of this stuff is house cleaning,” O’Flaherty said. “These are things that have been mapped in error for 10 years or more, and we’re just cleaning them up.”

The revamped written portion of the zoning bylaw underwent the most changes, and is more clear and concise than the current bylaw, O’Flaherty told the Herald.

More definitions have been added to the new proposed zoning bylaw.

The current bylaw has six pages of definitions, whereas the new one has 13 pages.

“A lot of times you’d be looking at the regulations and you’d want some clarity on what a certain word meant or a phrase, so you’d flip back to the definitions and there wouldn’t be anything there,” O’Flaherty said.

Davin Shillong, project manager with MMM Group, the company responsible for helping to rewrite the bylaw, said there are terms in the existing bylaw that don’t have definitions, making the document open to interpretation.

“What we’ve done to enhance this draft zoning bylaw that’s going forward for public hearing in October is we’ve added definitions, so generally all of the uses within these zones should be defined so that there’s a clear understanding of what exactly is meant by that term,” Shillong said.

The new, written portion of the bylaw has example diagrams in its pages, whereas the current bylaw does not.

An example of this displayed at the open house shows two pictures regarding the vision clearance requirement showing that a corner lot must have the triangular portion of the property that borders streets clear of any obstacles more than one metre tall.

O’Flaherty said the updated bylaw is more clear on where cargo containers can and cannot be placed in the city.

Cargo containers will be allowed in commercial and industrial zoned areas. A cargo container will be allowed in a residential area if it has proper drainage, ventilation and resembles a shed. In the current bylaw, cargo containers are prohibited in residential zones, Merritt Mayor Susan Roline told the Herald.

Under the proposed bylaw, fabric car ports can only be set up in the back yard of a property and not the front yard.

There will be fewer zonings under the new bylaw. P2 zoning — or church zoning — has been consolidated into P3 zoning, which is defined as Institutional and Public Use. C7 zoning, or Tourism Commercial, was eliminated altogether as it was deemed redundant as its uses are covered under other ‘C’ zonings, Shillong said.

O’Flaherty said one reason the bylaw needed to be changed was because of a number of site-specific amendments that had made the zoning bylaw confusing and wordy.

Merritt resident Doug Neustaeter attended the open house and said overall, he thought the new bylaw was clear and helpful.

O’Flaherty said people can contact him at the City of Merritt at 250-378-8620 with concerns regarding the new zoning bylaw.

Home-based business bylaw bumped process back

The City of Merritt’s home-based business bylaws were taken out of the zoning bylaw and revamped after city council’s instruction to review the rules and regulations surrounding home-based businesses back in 2013.

When the suggested changes were brought back before council, they were denied.

Having a slice of the city’s zoning bylaw taken out and looked at separately essentially delayed the process of revamping Merritt’s zoning bylaw in its entirety.