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Secondary suites


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#1 Mike K.

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 09:20 AM

Looks like View Royal has finally approved secondary suites. My understanding is Victoria may soon follow suit, although there is some (needless) worry by several councillors due to the neighbourhoods from which they hail.

Suites legalized in View Royal

By Edward Hill
Goldstream News Gazette
Oct 11 2006

Town council enacts bylaws to legalize, regulate secondary suites

After more than two years of occasionally cantankerous debate, secondary suites in View Royal are due to become legal Jan. 1, 2007.

Council passed final reading on two significant bylaws last week, adding language to the official community plan and land use definitions to allow suites in single family homes.

"Significant progress has been made for accommodations for all residential groups," said Mayor Graham Hill. "Unless we have a balanced portfolio of accommodations, the ecology of the community is disrupted."

View Royal will join a growing number of municipalities legalizing household suites, largely to regulate what already exists and to buffer affordable housing. Registered secondary suites also gives a heads-up to emergency services to the potential number of people in a residence.

The Town estimates it has about 350 existing secondary suites with about 630 tenants, or just under eight per cent of the population. Langford, Victoria, Saanich and Central Saanich allow secondary suites to varying degrees of regulation and oversight.

Public information sessions about registering suites, permits and compliance will be held in upcoming months, but dates have not been set.

Council still needs to pass about three more bylaws regarding permit fees, building code compliance and sewer rates. Those are expected to come to council in the next few weeks.

Permit fees are expected to run $150 for the first year, and $100 annually thereafter. Council has indicated sewer fees, initially set at an added 80 per cent, will be struck down.

Despite impassioned pleas from dozens of residents at several council meetings, the bylaws offer no exemption for live-in family members.

View Royal staff have said regulating who qualifies as family would be expensive and an administrative nightmare. The fees are intended to cover the costs of administration and site inspections.

"There was recognition by staff that the challenge of resolving who was family posed such a difficult problem that a simple fee gets past that," Hill said.

Homeowners with existing secondary suites that might not comply with the B.C. Building Code will have a chance to have a permit under a grandfather clause. Such suites will still have to conform to the land use bylaw, which regulates minimum house sizes and parking requirements.

"Bylaw enforcement may do a site check, but parking was the main complaint," said Sarah Jones, the special projects manager and architect of the secondary suite bylaws.

Grandfathered permits can be transferred between owners, but if they are allowed to lapse or if the house undergoes significant renovations, Jones said they could become invalid.

mailto:reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

Skyscraper Source Media Inc.

July 15, 2014: [Mayor] Fortin told C-FAX's Bruce Williams that he expects the [Johnson Street Bridge] project to be completed "on time and on budget."


#2 TheVisionary

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 09:38 AM

Esquimalt had past public meetings about people building apartment suites in their homes. A minority said their oppose rental suites; majority of people seem to support having rental units in their homes. It provides extra income for the owners, like a business on the side. Income producing property is higher in land value. Most people want all governments to butt out of their business, and get their government hands out of their private wallets.

#3 Galvanized

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 09:36 AM

I just noticed this on the CoV website and it's tonight.

Special Council Meeting
Public Meeting - Secondary Suites Review
Council Chamber, City Hall, #1 Centennial Square,
Thursday, May 3, 2007 at 7:30 p.m.
Victoria City Council invites you to attend a meeting on proposed changes to the city’s single
family detached housing zoning regulations in the R1-B, R1-A and R-2 zones regarding
secondary suites. The proposed changes:
 would allow secondary suites in single family detached dwellings constructed before
2002. Note: City Council is also considering the alternative of allowing secondary suites
in single family dwellings of any building age.
 would not require an on-site parking space for a secondary suite in a single family
detached dwelling.
The existing zoning restricts most exterior changes to a single family dwelling for five years
before and after the introduction of a secondary suite. No changes in this restriction or in
existing business licence or bylaw enforcement practices are proposed.
City Council would like to hear your comments on the proposed changes. All those who have an
interest will be given an opportunity to be heard.
Information on the Secondary Suites Review, including a map of the affected zones, is posted
on the City’s webpage at http://www.victoria.ca/cityhall/departments_plnsph_hsngln_scndry.shtml.
A copy of the staff report is available for review at the Public Service Centre at City Hall, #1
Centennial Square from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., from Monday to Friday.
Past President of Victoria's Flâneur Union Local 1862

#4 G-Man

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 09:47 AM

They have been talking about this for eons. I have no problem with it but many in the Fairfield and Gonzales hoods see this as a threat to their fiefdoms. Still with house prices as high as they are suites are real way to allow extre revenue. One of the issues is that the suite will have to meet building code so that means raiseing your house or digging it out. So in the end this is a lot of guff for little change. A PR stunt pretty much.
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#5 Icebergalley

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 10:08 AM

Henry Kamphof, who knows a bit about of trying to provide affordable housing, has some wise and practical comments in ths recent article...

Secondary suite plan ready for public scrutiny



By Brennan Clarke
News staff
Apr 25 2007


Ten months after the release of a detailed report on legalizing secondary suites, Victoria residents will have a chance to air their views on the issue at a public hearing.

The report, released in June, calls for zoning amendments that would allow secondary suites in all but the city’s newest homes.

The new rules would eliminate the requirement for homeowners to provide parking for tenants of secondary suites and allow suites to be added to all homes built before 2002.

Current policy prohibits suites in homes built after 1970, except for the Gonzales neighbourhood, where age and parking restrictions were lifted as part of a secondary suite pilot project in 2003.

The proposed bylaw changes, slated for debate at a “non-statutory public hearing” on May 3, would also ban additions on homes five years before the construction of a secondary suite and immediately thereafter prohibit alterations except for doors and windows that do not face the street.

At last week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, Victoria Coun. Dean Fortin proposed eliminating the age restrictions altogether, noting that “this is a way to increase density without impacting the neighbourhood.”

Coun. Chris Coleman said the new bylaws allow “garage conversions” for secondary suites as well. However, city planning director Deb Day said that idea “broadens the issue in a way that makes it difficult to move forward.”

Last year’s report, written by Diana Butler of Urban Aspects Consulting in Victoria, recommended that secondary suite owners pay a $100 business licence fee. However, city staff have proposed waiving that requirement.

Capital Region Housing Corporation excutive director Henry Kamphof, who attended Thursday’s committee meeting, said secondary suites are the most efficient way of increasing the supply of affordable housing units.

“The number one issue, and the major asset in any community, is not our schools or our streets. It’s housing. So let’s maximize the use of that asset,” Kamphof said.

Unlike large publicly subsidized housing projects, secondary suites “allow everybody in the community to participate.”


The Gonzales experiment, which has caused few problems in the area, shows that neighbours needn’t be overly concerned about parking, bylaw enforcement and building-code violations, he added.

Butler’s report estimates there are 3,500 illegal secondary suites in Victoria and as many as 20,000 in the entire Capital Region.

Central Saanich, Metchosin and Langford are the only Capital Region municipalities that have legalized secondary suites. Other municipalities, such as Saanich and Oak Bay, deal with individual cases on a complaint-driven basis.

The proposed zoning amendments are slated to go to formal public hearing June 14.

mailto:bclarke@vicnews.com


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

© Copyright 2007 Victoria News



#6 Holden West

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 07:11 PM

If an earthquake destroyed 30% of the existing suites in town, the rebuilt houses could not include suites!


If an earthquake destroyed 30% of the existing suites in town I think a lot of existing bylaws would be rewritten, including this one.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#7 Vicwester

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 07:21 PM

But why not do it right from the start? You know how long they are taking to write this one? 3 years and counting!
I think bylaws should be written with logic and consiquences in mind from the very start.

If an earthquake destroyed 30% of the existing suites in town, the rebuilt houses could not include suites!


If an earthquake destroyed 30% of the existing suites in town I think a lot of existing bylaws would be rewritten, including this one.



#8 Vicwester

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 07:34 PM

Anyway, at the meeting on may 3rd, over 80% of the speakers were in favour of abolition of the 2002 cutoff.
There are lots of reasons. One is that a house built from scratch with a suite in it is likely to be better designed and much more likely to conform and cheaper than one remodeled after the fact to conform to regulations that did not exist when it was being built!
A second reason is that victoria wants (at least they say they want) to increase density.
As the regulations stand, they will incourage density in a round about way.
Like so......
Single family home retail price will be depressed so Devellopers will buy up streets on the cheap, knock down the homes and put up condo's instead. And maybe that is the reasoning behind the regulations? Because they do not encourage density directly and that is for sure.

#9 Icebergalley

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 09:12 PM

But why not do it right from the start? You know how long they are taking to write this one? 3 years and counting!
I think bylaws should be written with logic and consiquences in mind from the very start.

If an earthquake destroyed 30% of the existing suites in town, the rebuilt houses could not include suites!


If an earthquake destroyed 30% of the existing suites in town I think a lot of existing bylaws would be rewritten, including this one.


Is Victoria so inbred that one would think that it took 3 years to write the new regulations...?

My "sunny boy"... subsidiary apartments, secondary suites have been part of Canada's approach to affordable housing, via, paying a share of the mortgage for more years than one wants to count... Developers who know which side their bread is buttered on have ensured that the projects that they have built include sibsidiary apartment from the get go...

Property owners in the CRD have been voting with their hammer and nails for so long that, as Councillor Fortin said on CBC a week or so ago, the citizens are way ahead of the politicians on this secondary suite issue...

It's too bad that so many resources have been used to enforce the anti suite movement in Victoria... I do hope that they were actually focused on ensuring that the suites met the health and safety requirements of the building code... as opposed to excluding people who need ecconomical accomodation...

#10 Vicwester

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 05:11 PM

At the meeting, there was other stuff too. Some people in illegal suites do not appear on the census. I forget the figures exactly but the cost per person is 11,000 or so in transfer payments. (presumably per year) from the federal government.
In my case, I wish to rebuild my house with a suite on the top floor. (I have bad knees and would prefer to stay downstairs). My lot is 8000 sq ft and i do not want to cover the entire thing with buildings so the logical thing to do is build a 2 storey house. AND I have 2 people who have asked to rent from me when they heard the idea. (Actually 3 but the 3rd is a non starter).
And lots of people like to obey the law. A key to people obeying the law is to have a sensible one. The 2002 cut off just does not make sense.
It is not just stupid, it is duh stupid. Asking people to have houses built to conform to a regulation that follows 5 years after the house is built is pure nutty. And it is hellish expensive too.
One idea I had (which lots of people seem to dislike) is (when I rebuild) go on a variable mortgauge and as the renter pays, put the money on the mortgauge. BUT if the renter pays a bit more, put that on the mortgauge too and at the end of their time renting, give them the lions share of the savings that they helped create on the mortgauge time. This would be using the house kinda like a savings account for the tenent. Landlord and tenent would both win in my opinion. Having a share in the house keeps the tenent interested in the upkeep and the landlord will pay off the mortgauge a bit quicker.
Anyway, nobody seems to like the idea.
But I might still try it if I can find a lawyer to figure out a fair agreement.

#11 Caramia

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:18 PM

Thats an awesome idea!
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#12 Vicwester

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 05:39 PM

I believe next (and final) victoria council meeting on the subject is june 14th but I do not know the time.

#13 Vicwester

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 09:13 PM

Aparently they have changed the proposal to allow suites in buildings of any age. so the public input worked!
http://www.victoria.... ... ailout.pdf
Meeting is on thursday 14th at 730 pm at city hall.

#14 rayne_k

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 08:36 PM

Passed, one not in favour.

#15 m0nkyman

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 09:07 PM

Who was opposed?

#16 Galvanized

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 10:13 PM

^I'm curious too. Great news, hopefully Saanich will follow.
Past President of Victoria's Flâneur Union Local 1862

#17 obscurantist

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 11:37 PM

Who was opposed?

Geoff Young, I think.

#18 Pippy

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 06:23 AM

I was wondering if anyone knows if Colwood is planning to legalize secondary suites as well.

I am currently looking for a house to buy in either Colwood or Langford but my plan is to definitely have a suite (or two if it's big enough) in it b/c I wouldn't be able to qualify otherwise.

If Langford already approves of secondary suites, then maybe I should forget about even looking at Colwood stuff? I'd like more information if anyone has any.

I checked out this link but the I can't seem to get the maps to work.

http://www.victoria.... ... ndry.shtml

#19 Holden West

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 07:51 AM

Wow, those maps are huge 8 MB monsters--try opening them directly with Adobe Acrobat instead of your default application. That usually works for me with big pdf's.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#20 gumgum

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 08:15 AM

^^ Don't let the legality issue sway your decision to buy in one municipality over another. Whether suites are "legal" or not is just a formality.

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