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Unanimous vote approves side-yard garden suite for Saanich home

Regulations for housing alternative typically required to be in backyard
Garden suites are becoming a popular housing option in Saanich. (Black Press Media file photo)

An application to build a garden suite in the side yard of a Royal Oak property, rather than the backyard, was unanimously approved by council at its June 21 meeting.

The Paskin Way proposal was moved forward despite the variance, since prior adjustments to the plan were made earlier this year. Garden suites, sometimes referred to as granny flats, are self-contained dwellings typically in the backyard of a larger house.

“We want to reduce the amount of red tape needed to go forward with successful housing solutions,” said Mayor Fred Haynes after the decision.

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Removing certain barriers encourages families to live multi-generationally, the mayor added, or it can serve as an income helper for those who wish to live and age in place, with the comfort that comes from having extra revenue.

The suites are permitted on most single-family residential properties in Saanich and are steadily becoming more popular. Applicants must first obtain building permits and approval from council, especially when there are factors that slightly challenge regulations.

The detached, ground-level dwellings provide rental housing options for Saanich residents, which are needed more than ever in the midst of B.C.’s housing crisis, Haynes said.

Garden suites may not be used for short-term rentals, such as Airbnb and the owner must live on the property in either the main home or the garden suite.

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