A garden suite in the neighbourhood of Brookside made from three shipping containers.
Relaxed rules around garden suites in backyards are being suggested by the city after a 32 per cent decrease in developments since new amendments were introduced in 2017.These new rules put in place Sept. 1, 2017 were intended to reduce barriers around building separated backyard dwellings, but public feedback from the first nine months highlighted challenges with regulations and processes.Concerns with the 2017 changes include accessibility concerns with design standards and floor area requirements for stairways and elevators.Only 32 garden suite development permits were approved in the nine months after the amendments came into effect, compared to 47 in the nine months prior.A report headed to the city council public hearing Monday afternoon recommends several zoning bylaw changes to make these dwellings more compelling.“The proposed amendments will increase flexibility where regulations have been identified as being too restrictive and will aid in interpretation and consistency in decision making by simplifying regulations,” the report reads. “Additional opportunities for garden suites, along with strengthened design provisions and incentives for accessible units, will support high-quality garden suites that meet a range of housing needs.”Proposed bylaw amendments include aligning garden suites with secondary suites in not requiring a parking space if accessible design standards are met and removing minimum lot size requirements to allow dwellings on narrow properties.Minimum floor area requirements will also be removed allowing for stationary tiny homes to be permitted as garden suites. Extending this opportunity to mobile tiny homes will be explored through a supplementary report to a city committee in May, the report says.“The intent of limiting opportunities is no longer compatible with the city’s objective of providing house choice and affordability,” the city report says on the removal of minimum floor and lot sizes.Although city council has proven to be open to an array of housing options, downtown councillor Scott McKeen said he is concerned loosening the rules even more could be going too far.“We got to be very careful that we don’t upset the apple cart,” said McKeen, noting pushback from residents on the addition of large towers in backyards. “There’s been some great examples of garden suites and there’s been some bad examples of garden suites. So I’m going to keep an open mind on this, but be concerned that we go to far.”firstname.lastname@example.org/dustin_cook3