Saanich to take a closer look at detached suites

Council unanimously approves motion calling for a review of detached secondary suites

On a night of hotly debated topics, one thing Saanich council did agree on was to look into detached suites.

Coun. Fred Haynes brought the report to council which asked staff to move on a delayed 2014 request to study the reality of detached secondary suites in Saanich. The motion was approved unanimously, but there was a question from Coun. Vic Derman as to whether the detached suites, including those which already exist, should be legalized in Saanich’s rural areas.

“I am delighted at the unanimous support from council for moving forward on detached secondary suites in Saanich,” Haynes said. “We have legalized secondary suites north and south of McKenzie within the urban containment boundary, and this report is the same, to study detached suites inside the urban containment boundary.”

Whatever they’re called, granny suites, laneway cottages or something else, permitting their construction will help address the dire shortage of rental supply and housing options in the region, Haynes said.

“We all recognize there is an affordability crisis for housing for individuals and families. Increasing the supply of these small affordable options is the answer.”

The recent trend toward tiny homes, or micro homes, including those on wheels, should all be included, Haynes added.

“I do caution the detached suites location,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders. “For example, not at Cordova Ridge, but rather I see having them where there is transit [and infrastructure].”

Two speakers on Monday mentioned a desire to rent out their home, which has empty bedrooms, while living in an outbuilding on their own property.

“With 30,000 homes in Saanich, if just 10 per cent took this up it would add 3,000 rental units to existing housing stock,” Haynes said. “As well, I have reason to believe that up to 40 per cent of suites in Saanich are occupied by single mothers, so we also need to think about who this benefits.”