Cars may be getting smaller but garages apparently aren’t.
Red Deer’s municipal planning commission voted on Wednesday to recommend to city council that it increase the maximum allowable height of detached garages to 4.9 metres (16 feet) from the current 4.5 metres (14.8 feet).
The issue arose after Red Deer building design consultant John Ferguson of Ferguson & Company wrote the city to request the change. He said the existing height limit makes it difficult for garages to conform with the steeper roof pitch requirements in some subdivisions, prevents many recreational vehicles and larger trucks from being parked indoors, and precludes the installation of lifts that allow one vehicle to be stored above another.
City planner Tony Lindhout told the commission that the height limit for detached garages was reviewed in 2007 and again in 2009. In both cases, it was found to be within the range of other Alberta communities.
A similar comparison conducted in response to Ferguson’s letter indicated an average height limit of 4.7 metres across nine urban centres. Individual limits ranged from 4.3 metres in Leduc to five metres in Edmonton, Airdrie and Fort Saskatchewan.
Lindhout said garages are becoming wider and their walls higher — both of which increase building height.
The commission has granted 13 relaxations to the maximum allowable height for detached garages during the past five years.
“It provides landowners with increase flexibility in garage design options,” said Lindhout of the proposed increase to 4.9 metres. “It would reduce the number of relaxation requests before the municipal planning commission, it allows a speedier decision process, and the increase in height does not conflict with any city planning documents, statutory plans or planning tool documents.”
Mayor Tara Veer expressed concerns that larger garages might adversely impact neighbouring residents. She also wondered if increasing the allowable height to 4.9 metres would lead to applications for further relaxations and even bigger buildings.
“I guess that’s where I see the risk.”
Lindhout pointed out that such variances would require the approval of the municipal planning commission. And Kim Fowler, the city’s director of planning services, added that allowing larger garages could help keep recreational vehicles and big trucks off the street.
After a motion by citizen representative Carol Mah to increase the recommended height limit to 4.7 metres was defeated, the commission voted to recommend a 4.9-metre limit to city council.
The height limit applies to “accessory residential structures,” including sheds, playhouses, greenhouses and other secondary buildings.