Applications to build garden suites in yards behind single-family homes have kept Saanich staff busy. A potential change could see side and front yards included as allowable sites. (Courtesy District of Saanich)

Applications to build garden suites in yards behind single-family homes have kept Saanich staff busy. A potential change could see side and front yards included as allowable sites. (Courtesy District of Saanich)

Garden suites in Saanich achieving housing option goals, mayor says

Nearly half of applications to build new suites, convert buildings approved to date

The first 19 months of the District of Saanich’s garden suite program have seen nearly 50 per cent of applicants approved for their projects.

Of the more than 100 projects received by the municipality’s planning department as of the beginning of May, 50 had been approved for development permits.

Having been asked to report back in a year after the regulations were enacted in October 2020, staff tallied the numbers and found 57 of the 67 garden suite applications received by October 2021 were for new garden suites, while 10 were for converting existing accessory buildings to legal suites.

A key element of the program is that planning staff have the ability to approve applications in which the proposed suite meets zoning regulations, as opposed to needing council approval.

“I’m thrilled our original objective to supply more possibilities for multigenerational housing on existing lots or more rental housing is being realized in just its first year,” Mayor Fred Haynes said in a release. “Combined with the extensive series of additional housing initiatives now underway, this program helps us to solve the housing challenge.”

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A garden suite is defined as a detached, ground-oriented dwelling typically located in the rear yard of a property with a single-family house as its principal use. A garden suite can only contain one dwelling unit and can be used for family or as a long-term rental unit.

Based on feedback received over the first year and information contained in the staff update, council on May 9 proposed a number of improvements to the program. Among those are to allow garden suites in side yards and front yards, as well in RS-zoned properties that are not within the district’s Sewer Service Area, and to expand approval authority for these development permits. Several minor changes to the regulatory framework to improve clarity and enhance process efficiency were also proposed.

Any approved changes will be monitored and outcomes reviewed for the two-year review of the program.

To read the one-year review, visit Saanich.ca/gardensuites.


 

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