How do you define a secondary suite?

A secondary suite is defined as a second dwelling unit that has a total floor area of not more than 90 m² and floor space that is less than 40% of the habitable floor space of the principal building. The suite must be located within the principal building either above or below ground.

How do you define a garden or carriage suite, and what’s the difference between the two?

A garden suite is a self-contained, one-storey dwelling unit that is separate from, subordinate in size to, and accessory to the principal dwelling. The total floor area of a garden suite can be no more than 80 m2.

A carriage suite is a self-contained, two-storey dwelling unit that is separate from, subordinate in size to, and accessory to the principal dwelling. The footprint of carriage suite can be no greater than 80 m2 and cannot have more than 95 m2 of residential living space.

Where are secondary suites currently allowed?

Secondary suites are currently a permitted use in the RS-1S, RT-1, RT-2, and RT-3 urban residential zones; the RC-2 and RM-2A (subject to RT-1 regulations) multi-family zones; and the CD-1 (Orchards Walk) and CD-5 (West Highlands) comprehensive development zones. The City will only permit suites on lots with a single-family home and no other dwelling units (except in the RC-2 zone) with a minimum lot area of 464 m2. Other regulations that need to be met for a suite to be considered include those pertaining to lot width, street frontage, setbacks, off-street parking, and front yard landscaping.

View Secondary Suite Current and Proposed Zoning and Permitted Uses.

Where are garden and carriage suites currently allowed?

Garden suites (one-storey accessory residential dwellings) and carriage suites (two-storey accessory residential dwellings) are currently permitted on lots with single-family homes and no other dwelling units in the RS-1S urban residential zone. Garden suites will only be considered on corner lots, lots with lane access, or double-fronting lots with a minimum lot area of 464 m2. Other regulations that need to be met for a suite to be considered include those pertaining to lot width, street frontage, setbacks, off-street parking, and front yard landscaping. If the lot area is a minimum of 650 m2 with a minimum of 18 m of frontage and a 4.5 m side yard setback, secondary access is not required. The form and character of garden and carriage suites are further regulated through the Intensive Residential Development Permit Area guidelines within the OCP (KAMPLAN).

View Garden and Carriage Suites Current and Proposed Zoning and Permitted Uses.

What do I need to do to construct a legal suite?

Secondary suites are regulated under the BC Building Code. A legal secondary suite is one that complies with regulations within the City’s Zoning Bylaw and that has been constructed under a valid Building Permit. Building Permit applications for a secondary suite need to include the following:

  • completed Building Permit application
  • construction value for the work, including materials and labour
  • site plan showing:
           -   parking provisions for the additional dwelling unit
           -   access (stairs) to the secondary suite
  • scaled floor plans showing:

           -  overall floor plans for the existing building with dimensions
           -  fire separation location, rating, and construction details
           -  heating and ventilation details
           -  suite layout showing (with dimensions) room uses, door sizes and swing, bedrooms, etc.
           -  bedroom window sizes, including location and dimensions of window wells
           -  smoke alarm locations and type
           -  mechanical room location and separation

Can I strata title or subdivide my suite?

The suite and principal dwelling are a single real estate entity, and the suite cannot be strata titled.

Do I have to pay Development Cost Charges (DCCs) for my secondary suite?

Development Cost Charges (DCCs) for homes are charged on a square metre basis, and no additional DCCs are payable for the construction of a secondary suite.

I live in a suburban or rural neighbourhood (Barnhartvale, Heffley Creek, Knutsford, Noble Creek, Rayleigh, Rose Hill). Will the City consider allowing suites in my area?

The City is not considering allowing suites in suburban and rural areas as the water systems in these areas were generally not designed to handle increased density.

Why is the City not considering allowing carriage suites as a permitted use in more areas of the city?

Once a type of land use becomes a permitted use, it does not require a rezoning and Public Hearing process. Carriage suites are two-storey, accessory residential dwellings and have the potential to have a more significant impact on neighbourhood character than a one-storey garden suite. Additionally, carriage suites can lead to privacy concerns in the backyards of adjacent neighbours.

Carriage suites will still be considered in areas where garden suites are a permitted use. However, due to the potential impact on neighbourhood character and neighbouring properties, these housing types will continue to require a rezoning and Public Hearing process. The form and character of garden and carriage suites are further regulated through the Intensive Residential Development Permit Area Guidelines within the OCP (KAMPLAN).

Where can I find more information?

Residents are encouraged to consult the Zoning Bylaw or contact the City’s Development, Engineering, and Sustainability Department at 250-828-3561 for more information.