In 2017, the City of Kelowna formed a plan to densify housing in the downtown area to encourage an increase of affordable housing options in the downtown area and limit urban sprawl. In order to do so, the City created the Infill Challenge, where community members, design professionals, builders and developers worked collaboratively to find ways to increase housing options in some of the City’s central neighbourhoods.
The project resulted in the creation of the RU7 zone, which allows for infill housing that is sensitive to surrounding neighbourhoods. This new zone has been applied to more than 800 properties.
What are RU7 zones, and why were they created?
While existing RU6 zones allow for up to two dwellings, the flexible RU7 zones allow up to four dwellings, with a wide range of building types, configurations and tenure arrangements, depending on the dimensions of the specific lot.
RU7 lots can now be found from the base of Knox Mountain towards Kelowna General Hospital. By concentrating housing in this area, residents have easier access to amenities, public transportation and employment opportunities.
This change has the potential to combat urban sprawl and improve vacancy rates — and it may also provide some amazing opportunities for property buyers and owners of properties in RU7 zones.
I own a property in an RU7 zone — what are my options?
If you own a property in one of Kelowna’s new RU7 zones, you may be able to add dwellings to your property to increase its equity. Whether you choose to rebuild or simply add dwellings is up to you, and the number of dwellings you may add is determined by the size and dimensions of your lot.
You may choose to use the additional dwellings for rental income, or to upgrade your property. In any case, the process can be complex, and working with an experienced professional is recommended.
If you are considering listing your RU7 property, several options are available to you. You may want to sell as is, or you may want to develop first. If you choose to develop, you will need to determine how many dwellings your property can hold and decide whether you want to build detached homes, duplexes or even a fourplex. Another option is to subdivide.
Regardless of your approach, you will need both a Development Permit and a Building Permit before you can start building under the RU7 zone. The Development Permit involves a rigorous process that evaluates the aesthetic form and character of your development proposal, including landscaping. The Building Permit ensures your proposal is compliant with the BC Building Code.
Whether you are considering purchasing an RU7 zoned property or already own one and are thinking to develop or list it, a REALTOR® may be a helpful member of your advisory team. REALTORS® understand the intricacies of the market, and are committed to working in your best interest at all times.