City eying updated secondary suite policies

City eying updated secondary suite policies

With the lack of affordable housing reaching crisis levels in Cranbrook, the city staff and council have been looking at developing a legal secondary suite policy for single family residential homes.

Council debated the issue during the last council meeting and voted to align the city’s secondary suite policies with the B.C. Building Code, which is currently being updated by the province.

Under the new language of the building code, secondary suites will carry a new definition, eliminate prescribed floor space and percentages size restrictions, and allow secondary suites in a building that may contain more than one dwelling unit.

Councillor Wayne Price, the former fire chief for Cranbrook, welcomed the changes to the building code and suggested the city align municipal policy with the provincial guidelines, as per a staff recommendation.

“The more consistent we are with provincial and federal regulations, probably the less problems we’re going to have down the road,” said Councillor Wayne Price

Legal secondary suites has been an ongoing issue within the city for a while, as they are only permitted within a few areas, such as River’s Crossing, Wildstone, RDEK-zoned lands and parcel which have been zoned to CD-8, Single Family Residential Secondary Suite.

The new proposed changes to the BC Building Code redefines a secondary suite as a self-contained dwelling unit within a building or portion of a building.

As part of that definition, the proposal includes discontinuing a prescribed floor space amount and percentage distribution.

That particular point was raised by Councillor John Hudak during the debate, who was concerned that the removal of a minimum space requirement could lead to issues providing a quality suite.

Staff suggested that municipal regulations could establish a minimum space requirement to supplement the BC Building Code rules, which generated some feedback from some other councillors.

“I think this proposal is looking good as it is and I would hate to see it get bogged down with more clutter and red tape,” said Councillor Wes Graham. “I’m not concerned about minimum size.”

Councillor Norma Blissett agreed.

“I’d like to stick with the BC Building Code,” she said. “I think that’s a good guideline; a lot of research has gone into that and I think we should start with that.”

Aligning city policy to the BC Building Code will occur through amendments to existing bylaws, according to a staff report.

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