Jenna Hauck/Progress file The 2015 BC Assessment data indicated that there are only 134 homes in Chilliwack with secondary suites. But the real number is likely much higher.

Chilliwack seeks input on secondary suites

The planning department is charting a new course and seeking feedback

A survey about legalizing secondary suites in Chilliwack is now underway.

The 2015 BC Assessment data indicated that there are only 134 homes in Chilliwack with secondary suites. But the real number is likely much higher, given that most of the secondary suites are created post-construction, without a building permit.

Consultants Urban Systems along with City of Chilliwack planning staff launched an opinion survey online to ask residents what they think about the prospect of legalization.

Secondary suites are sometimes called “inlaw suites” or “granny suites” and different municipalities have varying rules about them.

The goal of the survey is to allow local officials to “better understand the issues and options” around legalizing suites, and obtain citizens’ opinions.

Chilliwack is in the midst of a severe affordable housing crunch, like other Lower Mainland communities.

Legalizing secondary suites could mean increased density, more affordable housing stock, and help with mortgages.

The suites can be tucked inside a single family home, or separate as in the case of a carriage home or laneway house.

Public engagement efforts are starting this spring with the survey, and they want to residents to give them feedback.

Chilliwack’s existing zoning bylaw currently allows “in-law” suites, for family members only, in all zones that allow single detached dwellings.

The Secondary Suites Study will take a look at existing policies, review other jurisdictions, count existing suites, and consider costs, zoning and other concerns around legalization.

Bringing suites into compliance would mean requiring permits, upgrading, as well as inspections and fees. Some of the issues that sometimes arise include parking and zoning.

Residents can take the survey at: chilliwacksuites.metroquest.ca/