A Vancouver Island community of mostly older British Columbians is grappling with a new idea.

Qualicum Beach council is expected to pass a bylaw that would forbid stratas from restricting residency based on age or family composition.

According to Coun. Neil Horner, who proposed the bylaw, too many stratas in the community are for people aged 55 and over, and that has some families shut out.

He says the idea for the bylaw came to him when he heard from a citizen who couldn't buy into a strata building because she and her husband had two small children.

"She had to move to [nearby] Parksville and that's unfortunate because she's a sterling citizen," he said.

"I just think people being told 'you can't live here because of your age' is kind of like saying 'you can't live here because of your ethnicity.'

"I just think it's intrinsically wrong."

Plan about 'optics,' say critics

The idea is not supported by everyone in the community, including former councillor Mary Brouilette.

Brouilette told All Points West host Jason D'Souza that opening up strata buildings in this way is the wrong way to create housing for families.

"Strata houses … and that type of thing, they're not particularly suitable for families," she said. "If you're looking for more affordable housing, an average family can't afford a mortgage and a strata fee. So it's not a very practical solution."

She accused bylaw supporters on council of merely looking for the "optics" of a solution and said the real answer was for council to zone for more multi-family housing and insist new developments include rental housing.

She says council has failed at several opportunities to do that.

The bylaw passed its third reading this week and will likely go to a vote at council later in January.

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West