City of Victoria staff are recommending more legislation for the approval of mobile ‘tiny homes’ in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)

Garden suite applications on the rise, but not without a few hitches: staff report

Victoria city council to hear update on revised garden suite application process

City staff are recommending several changes to current garden suite approvals two years after a Delegated Development Permit (DDP) process was put in place for an accelerated Garden Suite Program.

In a report coming to the committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, staff members reported that since a streamlined application process was installed in 2017, the number of garden suite applications has exploded.

From 2004 until 2013, when a rezoning application was required for a garden suite, there were a total of 27 applications, 19 of which were approved. After the DDP process was put in place from April 2017 until April 2019 there have been 58 applications: 56 DDPs, one rezoning and one development permit with variance.

ALSO READ: Saanich gathers public input on garden suite regulations

“In other words, in the past two years, the City has received more than double the number of applications as were received in the previous 13 years combined,” the report reads.

In the first year alone, 39 garden suite development permits were approved, however, only 13 have been constructed. Another 24 are awaiting building permits or are under construction, while two others have been approved but construction still needs to begin.

After a review, staff found inconsistencies with the Garden Suite Program which they are hoping to alter. Mainly, this includes considering changes which would allow garden suites on smaller properties, as well as in addition to duplexes and secondary suites.

ALSO READ: Victoria one step closer to tiny homes

Inconsistencies with design outlines have also been brought forward, most notably differences in maximum height definitions between separate outlines.

Additionally, a main concern is the cost that accompanies these renovations. The average cost of a new garden suite sits at $90,964, with some ranging as high as $180,000. Regardless of this, staff are also recommending that the present $1,000 application fee be increased to compensate for the amount of staff it takes to process the applications.

ALSO READ: Mayor Lisa Helps prioritizes speed limits, garden suites at campaign launch

More legislation for the approval of mobile “tiny houses” is also recommended by staff.

Additionally, tighter restrictions on garage applications are recommended, as some people opt to apply for this first before converting the space into a garden suite to avoid several steps in the Garden Suite Program application process.

The full report will be presented at the Committee of the Whole on Thursday, June 27.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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