Council approves secondary suites

After nearly two years in the works, Red Deer has rules for self-contained suites. On Monday, city council approved adding secondary suites into Red Deer’s land use bylaw.

After nearly two years in the works, Red Deer has rules for self-contained suites.

On Monday, city council approved adding secondary suites into Red Deer’s land use bylaw.

The city wants to allow more of these suites — which usually contain cooking, eating, living, sleeping and bathroom facilities — because they are usually affordable for many. At the same time, it wants to ensure a number of existing illegal suites are brought up to building and fire codes.

Owners of existing suites will now have until July 1, 2010 to come forward to the city to register the suite. As long as a suite has registered an application with the city, it will not be subject to penalties.

Also supported was limiting the number of secondary suites within all neighbourhoods up to a maximum of 15 per cent of the total number of detached dwelling units. Council had been considering 20 per cent.

Some of the discussion during Monday’s public hearing centred on whether the city should be approving this bylaw when it doesn’t know exactly how many suites there are in a neighbourhood. The city has record of 216 non-approved suites.

Riverside Meadows resident Shirley Hocken said the city needs to find out the number of existing ones first because some areas could end up way over the 15 per cent cap.

Joyce Boon, permits and licensing supervisor for the city, said the city has to start somewhere.

Several residents of West Park suggested the older neighbourhood be broken into several areas so that no one area is overwhelmed with secondary suites. It has a number of nonconforming suites already.

One area within West Park has hundreds of multi-family dwellings, plus more than 50 secondary suites within 200 single family homes, according to resident Dale Reid.

“One area will get saturated while another area won’t,” said Reid later.

Reid called the new bylaw “a start.”

Council also supported the creation of an ad-hoc review committee to monitor the new regulations in the land use bylaw. To lessen concerns about density, the committee will also look at ways to divide neighbourhoods.

Administration will investigate a permit system for secondary suites and residential rental properties, similar to licensing done for businesses.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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