Existing secondary suites in Cranbrook now have a process to become officially legalized, following approval of a new policy by city council on Monday night.
The new policy outlines expectations, requirements and timelines to legalize secondary suites, including a two-year amnesty period exempting homeowners from paying building permit or utility fees, among other policy initiatives. The amnesty period applies to secondary suites that are in development or construction stages as well as existing secondary suites.
After the amnesty period, homeowners will be required to pay all associated fees.
“A central finding from the Housing Needs Report we received in late 2020, reported the shifting demographics happening in Cranbrook including smaller family sizes, fewer people per household and aging seniors,” said Mayor Lee Pratt, in a press release. “Housing built for community needs in the past does not necessarily work for people today or any possible population growth going forward.
“Allowing secondary suites is an important piece to the housing puzzle by helping fill some of those housing gaps.”
The new secondary suites policy also lays out provisions for enforcing compliance with the new rules as well as decommissioning a suite. Illegal suites can have insurance or mortgage implications as well as municipal penalties if the proper permits haven’t been obtained.
Legalizing a secondary suite will help the city ensure it meets safety and building requirements, while also providing additional housing options for a rental market that has had a low vacancy rate for many years.
Under the city’s zoning bylaws, a minimum of one parking space must be provided for a secondary suite.
“Secondary suites provide affordable housing for many people, and given our low rental vacancy rate, it is important that we ensure our present secondary suite stock is brought into compliance, while encouraging landlords and developers to construct legal secondary suites into their homes and upcoming house projects,” says Paul Heywood, Manager of Building and Bylaw Services with the City of Cranbrook. “These suites will have to meet standards set out in the BC Building Code and harmonize with our zoning bylaw to ensure adequate parking for the tenants within the suites are also satisfied.”
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