Cranbrook City Council has approved a new policy that would allow secondary suites in the community to come up to code and be fully legal, providing additional housing opportunities throughout the City.
The City said the policy was crafted for all landlords, developers or contractors as a tool to help increase the vacancy rate in Cranbrook, create affordable rental units as well as liveable and safe secondary suites.
“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 ageing seniors. Housing built for community needs in the past does not necessarily work for people today or any possible population growth going forward,” said Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt. “Allowing secondary suites is an important piece to the housing puzzle by helping fill some of those housing gaps.”
The five-page policy was approved by Cranbrook City Council on Monday, paving the way for an increase in legal secondary suits.
MORE: Secondary Suites Implementation Policy (City of Cranbrook)
The Secondary Suites Policy gives both City staff and members of the public clear expectations, requirements, and timelines to either legalize or decommission a secondary suite. The policy includes the following:
- Establishment of a two-year amnesty period where staff proposed all secondary suites will be exempt from paying building permit and utility fees during the grace period
- A requirement of obtaining both a building permit and an occupancy permit to legalize secondary suites
- Establishment of provisions to decommission a secondary suite
- Enforcement guidelines of secondary suite compliance
- Establishment of building permit fees and utility fees after the two-year amnesty period
As well, the City’s Zoning bylaw means at least one on-site parking space is to be provided for a secondary suite, as per parking requirements for the residence.
The two-year amnesty or grace period was implemented by the City so property owners are incentivized to legalize their existing suite or build a new suite without having to pay required building permit and utility fees in that time period.
“This amnesty period is also extended to those residents who already have existing legal secondary suites,” said the City of Cranbrook. “After the amnesty period, owners will be required to pay all associated fees and will be subject to penalties and possible decommissioning of the secondary suite.”
After the designated timeline, penalties will be imposed by the City of Cranbrook if it’s discovered that an occupancy permit has not been obtained, while illegal suites will also face insurance and mortgage implications for the property owner.
“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,” said 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.”
All of those looking to legalize or build a new secondary suite will need to apply for a building permit. That must be submitted to the City of Cranbrook with detailed drawings and supporting documents for the City’s Building Divsion. Cranbrook said a compliance inspection may be scheduled at the discretion of the Building Inspector to assist applicants with their application process.
MORE: Secondary Suite Information and Details (City of Cranbrook)