Secondary suites will now be permitted in most single-family neighbourhoods of Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress file)

Secondary rental suites to be allowed in most Chilliwack neighbourhoods

New zoning and secondary suites policy for Chilliwack cap off more than a year of study

Secondary suites will now be permitted in most Chilliwack neighbourhoods dominated by single family detached homes.

The unanimous council vote Tuesday at city hall capped off more than a year of in-depth study on secondary suites, with the urgent goal of creating more affordable housing for Chilliwack.

READ MORE: Rollout could be this spring

“We are hopeful that these zoning amendments will ease some of the pressure on Chilliwack’s housing supply,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

The impetus for the shift in policy and zoning rules is partly the record-low vacancy rates and skyrocketing house prices, which have increased the desperate need for affordable housing, in Chilliwack and across British Columbia.

“In order to preserve and increase the supply of available and affordable housing, the City of Chilliwack has changed its zoning regulations to permit the rental of secondary suites within the R1-A (One Family Residential) Zone,” according to a release from City of Chilliwack.

Coach houses and garden suites will also be permitted in the R1-A Zone, after obtaining development and building permits.

In the past the secondary suites were restricted to use by family members of the property owners. Now they can be rented by non-family members inside a single family home, or separate as in the case of a carriage home, garden suite or laneway house in R1A zones.

Existing secondary suites, estimated to number more than 1,200, won’t face code violations or fines, as city officials will not be seeking them out if they were built before May 15, 2018.

“Given the number of existing suites, the need for affordable housing, and staffing constraints to

undertake a large scale program of inspection and legalization, a Council policy is proposed to not

seek out illegal secondary suites that existed prior to the date this policy is adopted,” the staff report reads.

“Any new suites constructed after the adoption of the policy will be required to be built with a building permit, to

ensure building code requirements and floodplain regulations are met or be subject to bylaw

enforcement and compliance which could result in decommissioning of the suite.”

The just-approved Secondary Suites policy sets out the new approach to existing suites and the construction of new secondary suites. The new policy won’t bring the existing ones into conformity, but rather will outline what is permitted, and where. At this point bringing illegal suites into compliance would involve rezoning, and could cause more homelessness, according to the staff report.

In conjunction with the zoning amendment, the City has established a development permit process for regulating the form and character of coach houses and garden suites.

City officials will no longer be responding to complaints about the existence of illegal rental suites, but will continue to respond to emergencies and hazard concerns. While secondary suites will be permitted, residents are reminded that no secondary suite is technically legal unless it is built with a building permit and meets the BC Building and Fire Code and current flood protection requirements.

New secondary suites will not be permitted in floodplain areas, but coach houses could be considered as an alternative rental option.

The dire need for affordable housing was underlined in the City’s 2016 Homelessness Action Plan. Before recommending zoning amendments and the Secondary Suites Policy, City staff undertook a comprehensive review of policies and practices in comparable communities and conducted extensive community consultation. Feedback from meetings, an online survey and interactive booths at community events helped shape the new policy.

“We thank all the residents that participated in the community consultation process. The input provided was invaluable and helped shape the policy in a way that best reflects the needs and desires of our community,” said Mayor Gaetz.

READ MORE: Chilliwack survey about suites


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Call goes out for B.C. wildfire relief supplies

Chilliwack volunteers hope to load a 53-foot trailer with practical donations before heading into the firezone

UFV baseball coach returns to pro ranks

Jordan Lennerton, who also coaches at ‘The Yard’ in Chilliwack, played 1 game for the Quebec Capitales

Camp Ignite aims to inspire future first responders

Four-day camp offers young women a chance to experience the challenges of being a first responder

General aviation traffic down to a trickle at Chilliwack Airport

Minimum visibility guidelines can’t be met when conditions are so smoky you can’t see the mountains

At least 14 illegal fires set between Chilliwack and Hope this month

Conservation officers are fed up with people not listening to the province-wide fire ban

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Prime minister greeted by B.C. premier as cabinet retreat begins

PM Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan meet in advance of federal cabinet meetings in Nanaimo

Are your kids anxious about going back to school?

BC Children’s Hospital offers tips to help your children be mindful and reduce stress

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Date rapist left victims with ‘long-lasting, emotional scars,’ judge says

Klifford Kenyon of Abbotsford sentenced to additional two years in prison

Fire in barn that housed therapy horses has been confirmed an arson

Abbotsford Police Department is now investigating and seeks witnesses

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Most Read