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Posted: February 23, 2021

Council adopts secondary suites policy for Cranbrook

Processes are now in place in the City of Cranbrook to allow for residents with secondary suites to transition those to legal suites, after council approved the Secondary Suites Implementation Policy at its February 22 meeting.

The secondary suites policy created for all landlords, developers and contractors is a tool designed to help increase the vacancy rate, create more affordable rental units while making all secondary suites safe and livable. By legalizing your suite, the city can ensure the suite meets all safety and building requirements. This can also help with any future sale of the property, providing assurances to potential buyers that the suite has been approved by the city.

Mayor Lee Pratt

“A central finding from the Housing Needs Report we received in late 2020, reported the shifting demographics happening in Cranbrook including smaller family sizes, fewer people per household and aging seniors. Housing built for community needs in the past does not necessarily work for people today or any possible population growth going forward,” said Mayor Lee Pratt. “Allowing secondary suites is an important piece to the housing puzzle by helping fill some of those housing gaps.”

The Housing Needs Report highlighted that aging seniors living in single-detached dwellings have limited options for downsizing, leaving them over housed with high maintenance homes that could be available for entry-level homeowners and young families. The report also identified low-income households, of all demographics are challenged to afford the average rents in Cranbrook often leaving people living in inappropriate, precarious, and potentially unsafe housing.

The Secondary Suites Policy provides both the public and city staff with clear expectations, requirements, and timelines to legalize or alternately to decommission secondary suites.

Those provisions include:

  • The establishment of a two-year amnesty period (grace period) where staff proposed all secondary suites will be exempt from paying building permit and utility fees during the amnesty period.
  • The requirement of obtaining both a building permit and an occupancy permit to legalize secondary suites.
  • Establishes provisions for decommissioning a secondary suite.
  • Enforcement of secondary suite compliance.
  • Establishes building permit fees and utility fees after the two-year amnesty period.

As for parking requirements, under the city’s zoning bylaw a minimum of one on-site parking space is to be provided for a secondary suite.

To encourage those with secondary suites to legalize them, council has approved a two-year amnesty period where property owners can legalize an existing suite or build a new suite without having to pay the required building permit fees and utility fees. This amnesty period is also extended to those residents who already have existing legal secondary suites. After the amnesty period, owners will be required to pay all associated fees and will be subject to penalties and possible decommissioning of the secondary suite.

Illegal suites face insurance and mortgage implications, as well as penalties from the city if discovered and an occupancy permit is not obtained in the designated timeline.

“Secondary suites provide affordable housing for many people, and given our low rental vacancy rate, it is important that we ensure our present secondary suite stock is brought into compliance, while encouraging landlords and developers to construct legal secondary suites into their homes and upcoming house projects,” said Paul Heywood, Manager of Building and Bylaw Services with the City of Cranbrook. “These suites will have to meet standards set out in the BC Building Code and harmonize with our zoning bylaw to ensure adequate parking for the tenants within the suites are also satisfied.”

To begin legalizing your suite, an application for a building permit must be completed and submitted with detailed drawings and supporting documents to the City of Cranbrook Building Division. A compliance inspection may be scheduled at the discretion of the Building Inspector to assist the applicants with their application process.

For more about secondary suites, a copy of the Secondary Suites Implementation Policy including the necessary steps to legalize your suite and other important information, visit our Secondary Suites webpage or call the Building and Bylaw Services office at 250-489-0207.

City of Cranbrook

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