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Public gets say in new secondary suite plan
BY STEFANIA SECCIA, BURNABY NOW APRIL 10, 2013
The public will soon be able to weigh in on Burnaby's proposed program to legalize secondary suites.
On Monday, Burnaby council approved, in principle, the proposal for a secondary suite program as a basis for public consultation and feedback, according to a planning and building report.
After a lengthy public input process, a secondary suite program could become legalized between February and October 2014.
Burnaby has approximately 5,878 unauthorized accessory secondary suites, according to the B.C. Assessment Authority, which "suggests that about one in five of single-family dwellings in the city have a secondary suite."
Currently, the city has 426 in-law suites that are authorized and registered.
As a proposed component, the city's zoning bylaw would change the secondary suite's definition to "an accessory dwelling unit fully contained within a single-family building."
"The proposals seek to manage the legalization of a substantial inventory of existing unauthorized secondary suites in the city, and to allow for the development of new secondary suites in single-family dwellings," the report states. "The proposed program seeks to reflect and support the needs of Burnaby residents by formalizing the contribution that secondary suites provide in terms of more affordable rental housing stock, and to achieve the related safety and other benefits for both property owners and tenants."
The proposals include amendments to zoning bylaws, the application of safety and other provisions of the B.C. Building Code and including secondary suites into the city's permit, licence and fee systems.
"The approach also seeks to help manage the inclusion of complaints, suite size limits, the number of accessory uses, additional parking, payment of utility and other fees, and management of suites where the owner does not reside on the property," the report states.
According to the report, secondary suites in Burnaby are a significant part of the city's affordable rental housing inventory that would otherwise not exist, "at a time when property values and rents in the region have ranked the highest in the country."
The city's current total of non-market housing stock is about 6,175 units.
"In the absence of a renewed commitment by senior levels of government to actively encourage development of new affordable rental accommodation, there will be a continued demand and development of additional secondary suites, whether the city legalizes and regulates their construction or not," the report states.
If and when the secondary suites are approved by council, the city will be required to initiate a program to address the "illegal" or unlawful 5,878 suites that have not received inspection and final approval from the building department that are located in single-family dwellings, according to the report. A secondary suite in a two-family dwelling would continue to be illegal.
"The city's program for enforcing illegal suites will need to be assessed against a number of sometimes competing and conflicting objectives," the report states. "How passive or active the city chooses to be in pursuing secondary suite legalization will also relate to (several) objectives." Objectives such as safety standards, financial equity for utility fees and keeping local neighbourhood impacts to a minimum.
There are 25 individual recommended approaches that could collectively comprise the basis for the city's first secondary suite program.
Since council approved the report, staff is expected to draft a zoning bylaw amendment and and prepare public info displays by the end of May.
In May and June, there will be a series of public open houses at major venues in four parts of the city. Staff will report on the results of the open houses in July.
For an extended version of this story, go to http://www.burnabynow.com
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