Andy Gill was among 100 or Saanich residents who attended an open house on garden suites at Saanich Commonwealth Place earlier this year. Gill would like to see Saanich legalize garden suites to create more affordable housing. But staff also heard concerns about the impact of garden suites on neighbourhoods. Black Press File. Andy Gill was among the 100 or so Saanich residents who attended Tuesday’s open house on garden suites at Saanich Commonwealth Place. Gill would like to see Saanich legalize garden suites to create more affordable housing. But staff also heard concerns about the impact of garden suites on neighbourhoods. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Saanich to study financial impacts of garden suites

Seventy-two per cent of respondents support garden suites, but key aspects remain unknown

Support for garden suites in Saanich appears to be of ‘yes, but’ sort with growing concerns about their financial impacts.

A statistically significant survey finds 72 per cent of respondents strongly support legalizing garden suites in Saanich, which the municipality defines as “detached” houses located in the rear yards of single family lots, where they serve as an “accessory” to primary dwellings.

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But the staff report with this figure also shows the public disagreeing over key aspects of any future legalization. Support for allowing garden suites in all single family dwelling zones is 52.4 per cent, while 35.5 per cent of respondents favoured a case-by-case approach.

In other words, nearly four of 10 respondents oppose some sort of broad permission for garden suites. On the other hand, almost one in three (28.3 per cent) respondents also expressed support for garden suites near commercial centres and transportation routes, with the proviso that respondents could choose multiple options. Almost 11 per cent opposed garden suites anywhere.

RELATED: Saanich invites input on garden suites

Residents also appear concerned about the financial impacts of garden suites. While advocates advertise garden suites as an affordable alternative to traditional forms of housing, the survey found concern among homeowners about their economics. To this end, Saanich staff has asked council to approve $50,000 towards a study that will look into the effects of garden suites on property taxes.

This study would consider the positive and negative impacts of garden suites on property values, whether homeowners own a garden suite, or not. For example, homeowners without garden suites may see their property taxes rise, because surrounding homes with garden suites may see their property values rise.

The funding request, along with the rest of the report, will before Saanich council Monday night.


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