I was fortunate enough to attend a session yesterday at the Calgary Real Estate Board, led by staff from the City of Calgary regarding secondary suites in the city.
Secondary suites were long a source of endless hours of debate for members o Calgary’s City Council – but that all changed in March 2018. Council members will no longer spend hours debating the merits of individual applications for residential secondary suites. On March 12, 2018, Council approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that allow secondary suites as a discretionary use within all R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L land use districts. In these land use districts, homeowners can go straight to the development permit or building permit stage.
This is a huge step forward for people who believe Calgary needs more safe – but affordable – rental options. Another current advantage for people who want a secondary suite in their dwelling is that the development permit fee for all new secondary suite applications is being waived until June 1, 2020.
There are application processes for those who want to apply to build a new suite AND those who want to make an existing suite legal and safe.
If you’re a homeowner in a low density residential land use area (R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L) and are interested in building a new suite, I strongly encourage you to contact the city to get the process started. Remember, too, that the development permit fee is being waived until June 1, 2020.
If you’re a homeowner in a low density residential land use area, and your property has an existing (but not legal/permitted) suite that was built before March 12, 2018, contact the city and get the process started to apply to make your suite legal and safe. Lives may depend on it. The City will send out an inspector who will walk you through the process of the changes you’ll need to make to make your suite legal and safe. Once that happens, it will be added to Calgary’s legal suite registry. The suite registry became mandatory in June 2018 and until June 1, 2020, there is no registration fee to be added to it once you have a legal, permitted secondary suite.
Just last week a Calgary homeowner was slapped with $40,000 in fines for secondary suite violations under the Alberta Fire Code.
The City of Calgary has great resources regarding secondary suites on its website: www.calgary.ca/suites
And the legal suite registry can be found at: https://secondarysuites.calgary.ca/
If you’re a homeowner and have an illegal suite, you will have to advertise it as such if you list your home for sale. Legal suites can also be a great way for home owners and home buyers to help pay their mortgage, but that rental income will only count towards qualifying for the mortgage if it’s a legal suite. In Calgary, the time to make an existing suite legal and safe is now.