On July 9, City Council adopted Zoning Bylaw amendments to allow secondary suites and garden suites (one-storey accessory residential dwellings) as permitted uses on single-family lots in more urban residential zones.
The bylaw amendments are key components of the City’s Residential Suites Update—a project that has involved extensive research; analysis; and engagement with the public, stakeholders, and Council over the past nine months.
Residential suites can provide a form of affordable rental housing for tenants and can act a mortgage helper for homeowners. Suites built to BC Building Code standards under a Building Permit help protect tenants’ health and safety. Suites also increase density in the city in an efficient and sustainable way by making use of existing services and infrastructure.
Secondary suites and garden suites are now allowed on single-family lots that meet the zoning requirements in most urban residential areas of the city, including a majority of lots in Aberdeen, Batchelor Heights, Brocklehurst, Downtown, Dufferin, Juniper Ridge, Lower Sahali, North Kamloops, Pineview, Sagebrush, Upper Sahali, Valleyview, West End, and Westsyde. Carriage suites (two-storey accessory residential dwellings) will continue to require a rezoning process and a Public Hearing, and they will only be permitted in the RS-1S (Single Family Residential - Suite) zone.
Homeowners who want to construct a new or legalize an existing suite on a lot that meets the zoning requirements for a secondary suite or garden suite can simply apply for a building permit (and development permit if constructing a garden suite). This will result in the homeowner saving $1,500 in fees and being able to complete their projects 8–12 weeks sooner, due to not having to go through the rezoning and Public Hearing process.
Council also authorized amendments to the Business Licence and Regulation Bylaw. These amendments require owners of single-family homes with suites that are not owner occupied to obtain a business licence and sign a good neighbour agreement. The business licence fee is $67.20 per lot per year, which aligns with the City’s business licence fees for bed-and-breakfasts and other types of accommodations.
Council also adopted amendments to Council Policy No. EDS-17, Residential Suite Compliance Policy, to provide clarity for residents on how the City will address unauthorized residential suites. The updated policy will focus on encouraging compliance through education.
Over the coming months, the City will conduct an awareness campaign to inform residents of the zoning changes and the process to legalize existing suites or construct new suites under a building permit. This campaign will include releasing a user-friendly “how to” guide for residential suites that clearly outlines zoning regulations, building requirements, development guidelines, and the municipal permitting and approvals process.
The City is also working on developing a legal suite registry and an accompanying interactive online map. This can be used by homeowners with legal suites to market their suites, and it can also be used by prospective tenants to identify safe, legal suites.
Homeowners who wish to stay informed and receive updates on this project are encouraged to visit LetsTalk.Kamloops.ca/Suites.