Burnaby’s first-ever secondary suite program’s future will be in council’s hands on Monday.
On April 8, council approved, in principle, proposals for the creation of a secondary suite program to allow staff to engage the public and get feedback.
Burnaby staff are recommending the program’s advancement by council, which will allow staff to prepare a further report to legalize secondary suites.
“The approved program reflects and supports the needs of Burnaby residents by formalizing the contribution that secondary suites provide in terms of more affordable rental housing stock, and achieves the related safety and other benefits for both property owners and tenants,” states Lou Pelletier, director of planning and building, in his report. “The approach also sets the context for the inclusion of secondary suites within neighbourhoods by addressing matters related to the processing of complaints, suite size limits, the number of accessory uses, additional parking, payment of utility and other fees, and management of suites where the owner does not reside on the property.”
The proposed implementation of the secondary suite program could lead to a home rental business bylaw.
According to Pelletier, staff reached out to the public through the city’s webpage, public information sessions, putting notices in the local newspapers and completing public opinion survey.
Burnaby received about 130 completed surveys.
About 80 per cent of the respondents agreed with the objectives lined out in the program, including the increased safety standards, to protect affordable housing options and to ensure neighbourhood impacts are minimized, among others.
Sixty per cent of those surveyed agreed with the proposed zoning bylaw amendments, including the specific sizes for secondary suites, its definition as, “an accessory dwelling unit fully contained within a single-family building,” and requiring an off-street parking spot, among others.
The public response for the building permit process for the program was supported with 72 per cent in favour. Sixty-eight per cent agreed with the legalization approach for the program, as well.
However, only 54 per cent agreed with the proposed licence and utility fees for the program, as a business licence application fee would cost $270 and an annual $92 renewal fee. The application of a supplementary utility fee would be 50 per cent of the single-family dwelling charge – $501, for all properties with a secondary suite or grandfathered in-law suite. Also, a $205 fee would be required for one medium-sized garbage toter.
“This proposal received the largest number of comments and suggestions,” Pelletier states. “Some respondents opposed to the proposal commented that they felt that the proposed licence and utility fees were too high and could affect the rental rates for suites and make homeownership financially difficult, which would be contrary to the city’s stated goal of supporting affordable housing.”
Pelletier proposed three phases to implement the program, including introducing the necessary bylaws and amendments; start incorporating the bylaws and amendments; start the process for legalizing existing suites and approving new ones.
“With these goals in mind, this report recommends the advancement of the process of introducing phase one of the secondary suite program,” he states.
Burnaby city council is expected to discuss the report at its Sept. 30 meeting.
© Copyright 2013