Secondary suites policy reviewed

Town of Qualicum Beach wants to know what's working and what needs to be improved in regards to its secondary suites policy

The Town of Qualicum Beach is reviewing its policies regarding secondary suites and is hoping for some input from residents and stakeholders.

The town is hosting a public information meeting Wednesday, June 26 (7 p.m. at the Civic Centre) and is also encouraging residents to take an online survey (www.qualicumbeach.com) to “let us know what is working and what needs to be improved,” Director of Planning Luke Sales said this week.

Sales estimated there are currently 15 secondary suites in the town.

“There are likely a number of suites out there that have not gone through the building inspection process,” he said. “But we’re not out there actively looking for suites and requiring them to upgrade.”

Unlike other communities, the Town of Qualicum Beach does not require registration for a secondary suite.

“We wanted to keep it simple,” said Sales. “All we require is that the suite conforms to the building code.”

The town approved secondary suites as a legal form of housing in 2009 and at that time expected to be reviewing the policy after a few years.

Currently, there are three types of suites permitted in the town’s zoning bylaws: secondary suites, garden suites and carriage houses. Here’s some information about each (in all three cases, the property owner must live in either the primary dwelling or the suite/carriage house for at least six months per 12-month period):

• Secondary suites are a self-contained secondary dwelling joined to a primary residence.

• Garden suites are self-contained units detached from a primary residence and have a maximum height of one storey.

• a carriage house is a self-contained unit detached from the primary residence and can be more than one storey, with an accessory use (garage, for example).

Sales said secondary suites can be “a great option” for people who have an older parent, an older child or if just want to get revenue to help with their mortgage payments.