As Saanich council considers garden suites, this is our experience with living in a dense area of secondary suites. The biggest issue we have is that our council built bylaws that do not protect single family homes from this densification. Saanich has no idea of the number of suites, they have never forced suites to be registered, with no restriction as to how many are in any area. They have created bylaws that do not protect neighbours or neighbourhoods who choose not to have a suite. They have created a negative neighbourhood culture, as the energy to constantly call about infractions takes its toll on your life. Bylaw staff interpret the bylaw rules and taxes do not cover the impact on infrastructure.
A secondary suite property owner in our area openly told the bylaw staff that he knew he was not complying to the bylaw by not living in the home as he was renting both the house and the suite. Saanich would not act on this unless two adjacent property owners complain. Imagine admitting your guilt with no consequences.
We still have the time to adjust or create new bylaws that allow these kind of accommodation while at the same time protecting everyone. All suites, new and existing ,must be registered, with a yearly fee for suites and cottages. One complaint should justify action, with enforcement of parking restrictions and respect for properties without suites.
Allowing garden cottages and secondary suites turns single family homes into a business. This impacts the entire neighbourhood without contributing to its growth and maintenances of municipalities. Did secondary suites or will garden cottages really provide affordable housing or just line the pockets of greedy landlord with tax free income.