An open letter to Saanich council, Oak Bay council and neighbours of our municipalities that are considering garden suites or secondary suites. This is our experience with living in a dense area of secondary suites.
The biggest issue we have is our council built bylaws that do not protect single family homes from this densification. What caused the problems; Saanich has no idea as to number of suites, they have never forced suites to be registered, no restriction as to how many in any area, they have created bylaws that do not protect neighbours or neighbourhoods who choose not to have a suite. They have created a negative neighbourhood culture, the energy to constantly call about infractions takes its toll on your life.
Bylaw staff interrupt the rules and taxes do not cover the impact on infrastructure. The best example –a secondary suite property owner in our area openly told the bylaw staff that he knew he was not complying to the bylaw by not living in the home, renting both the house and the suite. Saanich would not act on this unless two adjacent property owners complain. Imagine admitting your guilt with no consequences.
We still have time to adjust or build new bylaws that allow these kind of accommodation while protecting everyone.
What would work; all suites new and existing must be registered, charge a yearly fee for suites and cottages, one complaint should justify action, enforce the parking and respect the privacy of non-suited properties.
Bottom line, allowing garden cottages and secondary suites turns single family homes into a business. This impacts the entire neighbourhood without contributing to growth and maintenance of municipalities. Did secondary suites or will garden cottages really provide affordable housing or just line the pockets of greedy landlord with tax free income?