The District of Saanich is embarking on a study to look into the legalization of garden suites.

Saanich explores new housing options

Open houses on March 17 and 20 will get feedback on potential legalization of garden suites

Saanich is considering opening the door to a new housing option to meet the growing need for affordable accommodations in the community.

The district is embarking on a study looking into the legalization of garden suites.

“At this stage of the process we’re looking to get feedback from the public on key issues of areas of support and concern regarding garden suites and their potential legalization,” said Cameron Scott, manager of Community Planning.

The district hopes to get that feedback from a pair of upcoming open houses as well as an online survey.

The first open house is set for Saturday, March 17 at Gordon Head Recreation Centre, 4100 Lambrick Way. The session will run from 2 to 5 p.m. and rec staff will be on hand to provide activities for children 12 and younger. There will be a brief presentation at 2:30 p.m. A second open house is scheduled for Tuesday, March 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Douglas Fir Room at Saanich Commonwealth Place, 4636 Elk Lake Drive. There will be a brief presentation at 5 p.m.

“There’s a number of factors that need to be looked at in terms of neighbourhood impact,” said Scott. “How garden suites can best fit into the fabric of existing neighbourhoods, so that’s one of the key things.”

A garden suite is a ground-oriented residential dwelling located in the backyard of a property with a single family home as its primary use. Garden suites are not currently permitted in Saanich, but council approved a study to examine opportunities to legalize garden suites in September 2017. Secondary suites are already permitted in most urban areas of Saanich.

“The key difference is that garden suites are separate structures,” said Scott, adding secondary suites don’t bring concerns over privacy or the impacts on back yards. “There’s definitely a broader range of issues that are associated with looking at garden suites. Certainly, there are some common issues – things like parking for example.”

The survey will be running into April and information displays will be set up at local recreation centres over the next several weeks.

Scott expects any proposed changes covering garden suites will be brought forward to council by the end of the year.

“The input we receive at these open houses will be critical for developing the potential regulations so we’re looking to really gather a broad range of feedback from the community,” he said.

For more information about the garden suite study and to sign up for updates, visit saanich.ca/gardensuites.

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