Saanich eyes green light for secondary suites


Saanich urged to allow secondary suites north of McKenzie

Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist
September 10, 201

Secondary suites could soon be legal in Saanich north of McKenzie Avenue.

After extensive public consultation, Saanich staff are recommending that secondary suites be legalized in much of the municipality north of McKenzie Avenue, as was done south of McKenzie about four years ago. Broadmead, rural Saanich outside the Urban Containment Boundary and the Blenkinsop Valley outside the Urban Containment Boundary would be excluded.

“The staff are recommending pretty much what we did south of McKenzie,” Mayor Frank Leonard said.

The staff report will go to councillors sitting as a committee of the whole on Monday.

If councillors agree, the recommendation will go to public hearing.

Leonard did not want to predict what council might do, but noted one of council’s strategic objectives is to improve affordability of both house buying and rental accommodation. Secondary suites hit both those buttons.

“I expect there’s going to be some concerns and objections, but it could possibly be that council believes it’s in the greater good to proceed,” he said.

Coun. Dean Murdock said he expects the recommendation to go to public hearing, noting that council’s decision to legalize suites south of McKenzie was unanimous.

“The staff recommendation says that the conditions for north of McKenzie would be exactly the same as south of McKenzie,” he said.

“As we found the last time, the community is largely supportive of moving forward on permitting secondary suites. In my view, I think that this is probably going to be successful and move forward to public hearing and get the bylaw amended to permit suites.”

Leonard recused himself from the vote legalizing suites south of McKenzie because of his wife’s property holdings.

“Fortunately, she doesn’t own anything north of McKenzie, so I can take part,” he said.

Saanich already has an estimated 9,000 secondary suites, which translates into one in three single family dwellings having a suite, the staff report says.

Secondary suites are typically on the more affordable end of the rental accommodation price scale and many homeowners rely on them to pay their mortgage, the report says.

“With the aging population, suites are now becoming a necessary means to supplement limited retirement incomes or act as housing for on-site caregivers for elderly and/or infirm homeowners.”

About 80 per cent of houses with secondary suites in Saanich are occupied by the owner, the report says.