On November 17, 2008 Public Hearing City Council heard the proposed amendments to the zoning bylaw to increase the opportunities for Secondary, Garage and Garden Suites. Although not entirely specific here are some definitions of the Suites that might help keep them straight – Secondary (basement), Garden (separate stand-alone building in the back) and Garage (attached above or beside a detached garage). If you are wanting to develop a suite please refer instead to definitions provided by the planning department.
Bylaw proposes to allow Secondary Suites as a Permitted Use (no notification to adjacent landowners, no right to refusal by City Planning dept, no appeal) in all Single Family Dwellings, regardless of where on the block the house is located. Onsite parking must be provided, the homeowner does not need to reside in the building. Garage, and now Garden Suites remain a Discretionary Use (requires notification to neighbors and are subject to appeal). Planning can refuse or apply conditions where privacy and compatibility issues are a concern.
The position put forward by Belgravia was that we support: increased density; increased housing mix by adding renters to our homes; 1 suite per home; and that location on the block is not a valid limitation.
We did not support Permitted Use for all Secondary Suite applications, or that 1 additional parking space was required in all situations. We wanted owner-occupied (home owner must reside in part of the house) as a requirement. The intent is to increase density while preserving the integrity of mature neighborhoods like ours. This position is consistent with that of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.
When presenting at the Public Hearing I raised concerns about the lack of density caps and licenses, lack of plan for enforcement and dispute resolution, This is especially worrisome to Belgravians if the bylaw passes without having owner-occupied as a requirement. Since little discussion has occurred within the community about Garage and Garden Suites I did not put forward a position.
At the conclusion of the meeting Council voted to send the Bylaw back to Administration, and directed them to further investigate and provide pros and cons of Discretionary Use, owner-occupied, parking, density, enforcement, and dispute resolution. It will be brought back to council on January 19, 2009.
Please refer to www.edmonton.ca/secondarysuites for background information on the bylaw or Planning and Development 780-496-3100 for information on converting your existing or developing a new suite.
Respectfully submitted, Gwen Berdan