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Residential Suites Frequently Asked Questions

Residential Suites

Can I have a suite on my panhandle lot?

No. Residential suites are only permitted on lots with a minimum 15 m (just under 50 ft.) in street frontage and 464 m2 (just under 5,000 sq. ft.) in lot area.

Can I have a suite?

If you have or are building a single-family home and your lot is in a zone that permits a residential suite and your lot complies with zoning regulations, then you may be eligible to have a residential suite. However, this does not mean that your suite is legal. A legal residential suite is a suite that complies with zoning regulations and that has been constructed to BC Building Code (BCBC) requirements under a valid building permit.

How many people can live in my suite?

The maximum occupancy of a single-family home with a residential suite is one family in the principal dwelling (the main part of the single-family home) and one family in the suite (a second dwelling unit within the single-family home). The Zoning Bylaw’s definition of “family” has no limit on the number of people sharing a dwelling unit who are related by blood, marriage, adoption, or a foster care agreement; for unrelated people, the limit is three or less people per dwelling unit. 

If a homeowner rents out both the principal building and the residential suite (whether it is a secondary, garden, or carriage suite) to unrelated people, the maximum occupancy will be three people in the principal building and three people in the suite.

I have two dogs living in my home. Can I have tenants living in my suite who have dogs of their own?

No. A maximum of two dogs over the age of six months are allowed per parcel of land. These same limits
apply to cats. Registered guide dogs and personal assistance dogs are exempt from the limit.

I’ve heard the terms “boarders or lodgers.” What is the difference between a boarder or lodger and an individual(s) renting my suite?

A boarder or lodger is a renter living in a room without a kitchen in a home occupied by a family to which the renter is not related by blood or marriage (a maximum of two boarders or lodgers are permitted in a home). 

A residential suite is a dwelling unit with sleeping and washroom areas as well as a kitchen. Boarders and lodgers are not permitted on a lot with a residential suite. There are also no additional off-street parking requirements for homes with boarders or lodgers, while a home with a residential suite must provide a third parking space (except in certain situations as outlined in the parking section of the Guide to Residential Suites).

My home is in a zone that permits a suite. Is my suite legal?

Though your home may be on a lot where a suite is permitted under the zoning regulations, this only means that a suite is a permitted use of land on your lot. You will still need to obtain a building permit (and other necessary permits) to construct the suite or to legalize an existing suite, and to obtain occupancy following a final inspection when the suite is completed to BCBC standards. A suite constructed without a building permit is considered “construction without permit” and is not a legal residential suite.

My neighbour (or their tenant) keeps parking a car in front of my house. Can I get Community Services to ticket or tow the vehicle?

There is no private ownership over on-street parking. Someone parking in front of your home is generally not a bylaw infraction. Try speaking with your neighbour and seeing if you can address the issue. Check out on-street parking regulations in the Traffic Bylaw.

What are the regulations for in-law suites?

The City identifies three types of residential suites—secondary suites, garden suites, and carriage suites. Definitions for these three types of suites can be found in the Guide to Residential Suites. In-law suites are not a distinct type of suite recognized by the City.

What zone do I live in?

You can check your zoning and property information on CityMap, the City’s web mapping application. It allows users to view zoning, land use, utilities, community facilities, development applications, historical maps, and other helpful information on a property-by-property basis. (Note: The Zoning layer is off by default, and the specific map layer must be activated under Planning and Development > Zoning).

Why are carriage suites not permitted in all of the same zones that permit secondary suites and garden suites?

Garden and carriage suites are accessory residential dwelling units that are intended to be subordinate to (smaller than) the principal dwelling (the single-family home). Many residential neighbourhoods still feature bungalows and one-storey single-family homes. As a two-storey carriage suite may have a more significant impact on form and character in these neighbourhoods than a one-storey garden suite, they will continue to require a rezoning and public hearing process (except in the RS-1S zone, where they are already permitted).

Why are residential suites not permitted in suburban or rural areas?

Water systems in most suburban and rural areas have limited capacity and are not designed for increased density. KAMPLAN focuses population growth in urban neighbourhoods with access to transit, community services, shopping, and employment. Adding density in urban areas makes it easier and more convenient for residents living in those areas to walk, cycle, or use transit to commute or get to key destinations, which, in turn, helps reduce emissions from single-occupancy vehicle trips and contributes to a more healthy and sustainable community.

Will I receive a second garbage cart for my suite?

Homeowners wishing to acquire a second garbage cart for their tenant(s) need to order them. For each garbage cart ordered, a recycling cart must also be ordered. Each garbage and recycling cart comes with a collection fee based on the size of the cart (garbage carts come in different sizes and recycling carts are either 245 L or 360 L in size; view the sizes and rates here). Please call the Civic Operations Centre at 250-828-3461 between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday, to order additional garbage and recycling containers.