Highlands Mayor Ken Williams said the District will be hostng a public engagement session in the new year about the growing number of illegal secondary suites that are popping up throughout the municipality. (Gazette file photo)

Highlands takes aim at illegal secondary suites

Report estimates roughly 30 to 50 per cent of homes have unauthorized dwellings

The District of Highlands is taking aim at the growing number of illegal secondary suites popping up throughout the municipality.

But before it moves forward with regulations, council has requested more information from staff regarding how secondary suites would be licensed, what enforcement would look like and what type of impact it would have on services such as sewage.

“This information will help narrow down our focus,” Mayor Ken Williams said.

Secondary suites (not to be confused with short-term vacation rental such as AirBnB) are not permitted under zoning regulations.

However, a staff report estimates approximately 30 to 50 per cent of properties have some form of unauthorized secondary suite or additional unapproved dwellings.

According to the British Columbia Building Code, a secondary suite is an additional dwelling unit located in a residential building with only one other dwelling, located in a building that is a single-family home, and/or has a total floor space of not more than 968 square feet.

Given increasing land costs and housing shortages throughout the Capital Region, it’s an issue the report says will likely continue, which is why the District has decided to tackle it head on as part of its strategic plan.

“There are issues of safety,” said Williams, noting an incident some years ago when a fire started in a secondary suite and a resident died. “It’s a complex subject … It’s a discussion that’s come time for us to have.”

There are some in favour of secondary suites. Many residents have them to help pay for their mortgage, to help support younger or older family members, or to provide a diversity of housing options.

But before council moves forward, Williams said public consultation will be needed.

“We’re going to have a lot of engagement with the public over this and we’re just trying to gather as much pertinent information as we can,” he said, noting the District has been looking at other municipalities around Greater Victoria as to what works and what doesn’t in terms of enforcement. “This is a discussion that needs to be had with the public.”

The public engagement session is expected to take place sometime in the new year.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Hillside Avenue death ruled a homicide, police say

No charges have yet been laid in the killing of Victoria man Joe Gauthier

Hope gets eight year sentence for Church Avenue sex assault

Eight years is the sentence for David Robert Hope, who was found… Continue reading

Suspect arrested, released in Victoria home invasion

Police are still looking for a second person associated with robbery and car fire

Colwood wins Victoria Flower Count for a five-peat

The 43rd annual Flower Count had over three billion blossoms counted in total

Highlands raise concerns over proposed quarry near subdivision

This is the second time in three years the company has made an application for additional business

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 16, 2018

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

America’s Musical Journey premieres at the IMAX

Enter to win tickets to an invite only concert at your community newspaper’s Facebook page

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

Most Read