Approval expected soon for garden suites in Saanich

Garden suites — small dwellings built on the lots of existing houses — could soon get a green light in Saanich.

Saanich councillors have agreed to regulations to allow homeowners to build the suites. It’s expected the new regulations will go to council for a final vote early next year.

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The new rules would allow garden suites in backyards of houses in areas served by sewers. Requests to locate one in the side or front yard would be examined on a case-by-case basis.

The minimum lot size for a garden suite would be 400 square metres (4,300 square feet) and at least 12 metres wide. The size of the suite would be determined by the lot size.

For lots of 400 to 500 square metres (4,300 to 5,382 square feet), garden suites would be allowed to have a floor area no greater than 46.5 square metres (500 square feet). For lots of 1,000 square metres (10,764 square feet) and more, a garden suite’s floor area could be up to 93 square metres (1,000 square feet).

The new regulations will forbid the use of garden suites as short-term rental units, and property owners would be expected to live in either the suite or the property’s principal dwelling.

Garden suites would not be allowed on the same property as secondary suites, such as a basement suite.

Saanich councillors instructed district bureaucrats to start looking at garden suites more than two years ago, resulting in development of proposed regulations based on research and public feedback.

Eric Dahli, chairman of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association, said his group supports the new regulations, but has concerns about parking for extra vehicles the suites might attract.

Dahli said proximity to University of Victoria means Cadboro Bay residents are keenly aware of the housing squeeze, so his association is updating its local area plan and examining the possibility of housing on some institutional properties in the area.

“We don’t want to hear people say: ‘C’mon Cadboro Bay, you have to do your share,’ ” he said. “Given the housing shortage we are all experiencing then, garden suites may be part of the answer.”


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