Will the new City Council bust a suite move?


Councillor Shane Keating introduced a Notice of Motion for the Council meeting on December 11, 2017.


The motion aims to do three things:

  1. include secondary suites as discretionary uses within all residential areas of the City of Calgary by March 2018;

  2. make enrolment in a secondary suite registry mandatory (with a visible registration sticker) for new secondary suites; and,

  3. reinstate fees for secondary suite applications (a partial fee for out of pocket expenses only).


If the motion is passed, Councillor Keating expressed that he will also introduce a follow-on Motion Arising with more items to be voted on separately.



Motion Arising that Councillor Keating has said he will table if the first Notice of Motion is passed by City Council.


Calgarians for Secondary Suites has carefully reviewed these proposals. Our view is that city-wide discretionary use, while not the best solution, is a good first step towards reform.


A 2016 report found individual secondary suite applications have consumed more of Council’s meeting time than any other issue. An increase in extended Council meetings have been costing taxpayers $10,000 per meeting in overtime pay for administration.


However, additional red tape such as recurring registration with stickers and additional fees would be an unwarranted steps backwards.



City-wide discretionary use - a step in the right direction

Making secondary suites a discretionary use city-wide will finally end Council wasting its time and demeaning applicants by considering individual suite applications. City administration will still review each suite application in order to ensure that the proposed suite complies with the city’s safety as well as building code requirements. A discretionary use means that neighbours and community associations would be able to comment on the proposed development at the development permit application stage. Any approval could be appealed.


Secondary suites are allowed in every other major Canadian city except Calgary. In other cities like Edmonton, suites are considered permitted use in most types of detached housing requiring significantly less red tape than would be required under discretionary use, as is currently proposed in this Notice of Motion.


Calgarians for Secondary Suites’ position is that secondary suites should be a permitted use in all residential areas in Calgary. However, city-wide discretionary use is a step in the right direction.



Sticker shock - stickers and recurring registration fees make no sense

We agree with Councillor Keating’s statement that the safety of existing non-conforming suites can be improved through greater compliance. However, creating additional red tape, such as stickers, recurring registration and fees, would only serve as a disincentive for homeowners to apply for legal suites. Registration fees should be reasonable and used only towards maintaining the registry.


Calgarians for Secondary Suites opposes unnecessary red tape and fees that penalize legal suite applicants and discourage homeowners from building suites legally.

Let’s (finally) do this right!

We applaud the new City Council’s efforts to tackle this important issue and encourage them to vote YES to secondary suites as a discretionary use city-wide and caution them to vote NO to recurring registration, unreasonable fees and red tape.