April 29, 2016 | Cody Stuart
Secondary suite amendments going to councilSeeking to standardize, increase allowances and simplify applications
City council on May 2 is set to debate amendments to the land use bylaw that would alter the requirements for secondary suites and backyard suites in low-density residential districts.
The amendments aim to standardize parcel width, depth and area requirements, and increase the maximum floor area for both secondary and backyard suites. These changes would simplify the application process for applicants in districts where secondary suites can be legally developed.
The proposed amendments would delete the minimum parcel depth and minimum parcel area requirements for accessory suites. The area and depth of a parcel would otherwise regulate for single detached dwellings in all the districts where these deletions are proposed.
Removing these rules would result in the standard base parcel dimensions applying to all single detached dwellings, whether or not the parcel also contains an accessory suite. Minimum parcel width would also be reduced in certain districts.
The proposed amendments would also increase the maximum floor area for suites to 100 square metres. This includes the area above a garage, at ground level or in a basement.
The rules only apply in districts where secondary suites and backyard suites are already allowed and are aimed at removing some of the barriers to developing a suite for homeowners in areas where suites are already allowed.
This, of course, will not be the first time secondary suites will be in front of city council. Last month, the issue sparked a marathon council meeting that saw 21 out of 26 suite applications approved.
There are currently 497 registered secondary suites in Calgary. Owners of suites included in the registry 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, the City of Calgary is saying there is no better time than now. 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.