Secondary suites are now permitted in Oak Bay neighbourhoods.
Councillors have voted unanimously in favour of passing an amendment to a single-family dwellings bylaw to allow for fully enclosed secondary suites as independent units within principal buildings.
The secondary suites have to be contained within an “integral part of the one family dwelling,” which must be owner-occupied. No more than one suite is permitted per home, and the suites can’t be used for short-term accommodation — a period of less than 30 consecutive days.
Homeowners who rent out their suite will be required to register the unit with the municipality and pay a nominal fee.
The decision follows a public hearing Sept. 8, at which council received dozens of messages expressing both support and concern about the bylaw.
“We wanted to bring the community along with us and listen to their concerns,” said Mayor Kevin Murdoch. “I’m very appreciative of the enormous amount of feedback we did get from the public.”
Secondary suite legalization has been a topic of discussion since at least 2006, Murdoch said. In 2021, council endorsed guidelines for new suites and the estimated 700 that already exist in the municipality.
“This is a way of regulating them, and making it far, far, simpler for people in our community to build the suites in the first place,” Murdoch said.
“I’m very glad we got this across the finish line this term. I think it’s an important step forward.”
— With files from Louise Dickson
>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org