Cranbrook City Hall. File photo.

Cranbrook City Hall. File photo.

Council passes, adopts new bylaw to allow legal secondary suites

Cranbrook has formally adopted a secondary suites bylaw that will allow secondary suites in single family residential zones throughout the city.

The new secondary suites bylaw aligns with updated regulations through the BC Building Code and opens up the scope of secondary suites in single family residential homes, side by side duplexes and townhouses.

Previously, secondary suites were only allowed in a few select zoning designations throughout the city such as Rivers Crossing or Wildstone, among a few select others.

Addressing and managing illegal suites was a significant issue identified by staff, according to a city report. The city will be able to track legal secondary suites, but doesn’t have an inventory of illegal suites. Currently, illegal suites are managed and enforced through a complaints-based process, however, emphasis on enforcement is geared towards making suites compliant with regulations.

“I think the basis of this bylaw, secondary suites, the number one factor in my concern is that there’s a lot of suites out there and I wanted to make sure any suites that are, or going forward, any suites are up to code and giving our residents, and the people renting them, comfort in the fact that they’re legal,” said Mayor Lee Pratt.

”..I know there’s suites out there that are illegal and are going to continue to be illegal, but going forward, I think we’ve seen a number of people coming forward with getting certification and I think that’s a good sign so I’m definitely in support of this.”

While the vote to pass third reading and adoption was nearly unanimous, Coun. John Hudak was opposed after hearing feedback from a local resident during a public hearing before the meeting, and requested the matter be delayed until staff had the opportunity to review the issues raised.

Some of those issues raised specific to the bylaw included removing a requirement for owner occupancy and submission of a statutory declaration, the wide scope of permitting secondary suites in all single family residential zoning designations, and secondary suite occupancy rates.

However, staff noted that the bylaw aligns with regulations contained in the BC Building Code, while also pointing out that a secondary suites bylaw governs permitted land uses and not users.

The example of a tenant living in a secondary suite of a homeowner who works shift work out of town was raised. In that particular case, the removal of the statuary declaration from the new bylaw was necessary, because it would essentially make it illegal for a tenant to live in the secondary suite while the homeowner is away from the residence on shift work.

Staff also noted that there are regulations within the BC Building Code that only allow for two people in a bedroom.

“We’re following the BC Building Code with the regulations that were put in place,” said Rob Veg, a city planner. “That’s what it [bylaw] was modelled off of, as well as some other communities and I think, from a staff perspective, it’s pretty standard across the board with what we’re proposing here.”

Much of the work around the secondary suites bylaw to date has focused on establishing a municipal regulatory framework, while policies for implementation will be forthcoming over the next few months.