Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Geography We Call Home - What does "Room and Board" mean?

Residential zoning often includes "boarding" as a permitted use but what is it, and, what does it mean?

Room in a B & B

After the Romans withdrew from Britain that part of the world entered into a Dark Age where much was lost.  Britain was over run by all sorts of nasty invaders and chaos ensued for a good length of time, but, gradually things began to improve. With the passage of time, and more than a few setbacks, estate houses called "Halls" once again began to appear but were very modest by today's reckoning. In fact, these houses were not much more that a single large room where everyone lived. Privacy - forget it. There was none.

Earth floors were piled high with rushes to cover up the mess made by both people and animals. Dutch theologian Desiderius Erasmus in 1524 remarked on the conditions of these floors harbouring "spittle, vomit and urine of dogs and men, beer that hath been cast forth and remnants of fishes and other filth unmentionable".  It was, however, a great place for rodents, snakes, bugs and other vermin to live.  When things got too miserable, for human comfort, the answer was to move everyone to another location well away from the vermin.  The hope was that by removing food sources from these pest populations, their numbers would plummet and perhaps someday everyone would be able to move back in - with fresh rushes.

Furniture was plainly made and needed to be "transport friendly".  The dining table was not much more that a large board suspended on trestles but for many it was simply a board that the people would place across their knees.  "Room and Board" came to mean just that you had a piece of the board - a place to eat and a place to sleep.

We've come a long way

Boarding and Local Zoning ByLaws

Many of the City of Chilliwack residential zones allow boarding. Their definition of boarding is as follows:

a multi-family residential use providing accommodation for 5 or more persons in the form of sleeping units only and where meals or food preparation facilities are available in a common area; 

It is interesting that District of Kent (Agassiz) zoning recognizes a difference between a boarding use and a bed and breakfast use. Bed and breakfasts require permits and restrict stays to 10 days or less.

If you are looking to offer "Room and Board" in your home a trip to the local government offices to check with zoning uses is recommended.  I would suggest that you also contact your insurer.

All pictures courtesy of Leigh-Anne Mullock. Thank you.

Source of material: Bill Bryson "At Home A Short History of Private Life" 2010