April 15, 2016 | Cody Stuart
Five things about secondary suite debateContentious topic back in the news
Secondary suites are back in the news thanks to a marathon council meeting at City Hall recently that saw 26 suite applications up for approval.
Sure to provoke those on both sides of the debate, CREB®Now takes a look at some of the latest developments in what is quickly becoming Calgary's very own version of The Song That Never Ends.
With 26 individual secondary suite applications up for approval at council, the process dominated the day at City Hall, taking roughly 10 hours to hear from all involved. While council members are not paid overtime, City staffers are, meaning the cost of the review could cost taxpayers in excess of $10,000.
Council ended the day approving roughly 80 per cent of the suites that came before them – 21 in favour, five rejected. Members of the public were forced to remain in council until their suite was reviewed, in some cases taking more than eight hours.
One surprising development was a call from Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong to reinstate the City's $5,000 application fee for secondary suites. Waived in attempt to encourage more homeowners to either build legal suites or to legalize existing suites following the 2013 floods, Demong said the city's improving vacancy rate along means there's no longer a need to encourage more rental suites.
There are currently 497 registered secondary suites in Calgary. Owners of suites included in the program have obtained all necessary permits and the suites have been inspected to meet Alberta's Safety Code requirements. This registry is updated as new secondary suites are approved by the City.
For homeowners thinking about developing a secondary suite, or legalizing an existing one, there is no better time than now. City Council approved an 18-month-long development permit exemption, which runs until March 3, 2017. Calgarians with eligible properties can save an estimated $2,200 in costs and hours of paperwork by skipping the development permit process altogether.