Proposed regulations for secondary suites in Red Deer were sent back for a little tweaking by the municipal planning commission this week.
The city has been looking at secondary suites since 2006, when an Affordable Housing Strategy proposed that they become more readily available. Since 2001, the city had restricted secondary suites to new neighbourhoods on pre-identified lots.
Proposed rules would allow secondary suites in detached homes in all city neighbourhoods. In some areas, the suites will be considered permitted uses, but in other areas, such as older neighbourhoods, municipal planning commission approval will be required.
The number of secondary suites will be restricted to 20 per cent of homes in a neighbourhood. The units must be self-contained living spaces with their own entrances.
Commission members and city Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer asked whether the city could require that the owners of homes with secondary suites be required to live in the house.
City solicitor Don Simpson said that requirement would not likely face a court challenge, although there is at least one municipality that has made that a condition. Simpson said municipalities can regulate land uses, but their authority does not extend to regulating people and where they live.
“Our general position is that you can’t do this based on well-established Supreme Court of Canada principles.”
Commission member Doug Jansen questioned whether the city should be setting a percentage target for secondary suites before it knows how many already exist.
Staff requested up to three weeks to get more information.