Cottage life

A cottage that’s one of three dwellings on the Agur family property on Crescent Beach.

Three homes on a single waterfront property belonging to a prominent Summerland family were made legal this week by council, which sent back a “slight message” in the form of a no-build covenant.

The owners, Robin and Janice Agur, received unanimous approval to legitimize the assembly of buildings through a site-specific zoning bylaw text amendment for their property at 19223 Lakeshore Dr. N., which was valued at $4.2 million as of July 2020 by BC Assessment.

Located at the tip of Crescent Beach on Okanagan Lake, the property has a main residence, plus a cottage and garage with a suite above. All three are occupied by members of the Agur family, but the zoning bylaw as written only allows one dwelling per property.

In exchange for the district permitting the two additional residences and cutting the minimum side yard setback from 1.5 to 1.15 metres to accommodate one of the buildings, the Agurs agreed to reduce the allowable lot coverage from 40 to 30% and reduce the floor-area ratio from 0.45 to 0.35, both of which limit the size and massing of any future construction.

However, an agent who represented the Agurs at a public hearing Monday said while the family is considering renovating the existing structures, they have no plans for redevelopment.

“The owners want to make sure that the property stays in keeping with the existing neighbourhood, and they do not wish to rezone for any other uses on the property, and they do not want to create a large dwelling that would lend itself more to an urban waterfront,” said Heather Shedden of People plus Place: Planning and Design.

She acknowledged the family has only ever paid for a single set of utility services for the three homes, but noted usage has been metered accordingly by the district, and that the Agurs pay for private garbage collection.

“We realize it may come into question why the owners are pursuing this (bylaw) text amendment now,” continued Shedden. “It is in order to maintain the character of the property and neighbourhood, while also being cognizant of the District of Summerland’s bylaws.

“And they are also aware of the necessity for multi-generational living in their family going forward.”

Mayor Toni Boot was skeptical.

“This application, although it says the purpose is to bring their property into conformance with the district, it’s really because they want to do some renovations and they’re doing them on buildings that are illegal,” said Boot. “That is the real reason for this application, as far as I’m concerned.”

Coun. Richard Barkwill said he’d gotten an earful from other members of the community who felt the same way.

“People are offended by the prolonged out-of-conformity of the existing buildings, and they’re concerned no special breaks or allowances be given with this proposal,” said Barkwill.

“I guess I would have to say in answer to that: Although it is out of the usual, I see it as a real step forward and about the best option we have for bringing things into conformity.”

And to help ensure lasting conformity, Coun. Doug Patan convinced his peers to have a no-build covenant placed on the property’s title once renovations are complete.

“All I’m saying is, we have the opportunity to send a slight message to our community that it’s not acceptable to build without a permit, it’s not acceptable to do it and then ask for forgiveness,” said Patan. “Because it puts us all in a bad light.”

Brad Dollevoet, the district’s director of development services, told council such covenants are harder to enforce than bylaws, but can only be removed by a resolution of council.

In a letter to council outlining the history of the property, Robin Agur said it was purchased by his great-grandfather in 1905 when “most of the Crescent Beach waterfront lots were sold via an ‘auction’ from a large raft with a brass band.”

A log cabin went up in the 1930s and was later added onto, forming the basis of the main residence, according to the letter, while the cottage and garage were built in the 1950s and later became homes for aging and ailing family members.

Agur family business holdings include the Ramada Penticton, Hotel Penticton and Bad Tattoo Brewing. The family, which is also involved in real estate, in 2007 signed a $1-a-year lease that led to construction of the barrier-free Agur Lake Camp for kids west of Summerland.