Public get say on garden suite policy

On Thursday, anyone wanting to voice their opinion on garden suites is invited to the public hearing in the council chambers.

Despite having no built examples to evaluate, Victoria city council will decide whether to formalize its draft garden-suite policy this week.

“I’m confident we got it (the policy) right,” said senior planner Kevin King, adding a majority of the feedback received on the issue has been in favour.

So far, the city has only received two applications for garden suites.

One was declined for not meeting the requirements. Another, at 3194 Rutledge St. was granted last October. To date, there’s no sign of any construction, however.

King said he’s a little bit surprised by the lack of uptake, given the number of enquiries.

“The idea appeals to a lot of people but there is some time involved and there are some costs involved,” he said. “It’s one thing to be excited about an idea; it’s another thing to finance it.”

Garden suites are legal, detached, ground-level suite located in the backyard of  single-family homes. Construction estimates range widely, from $40,000 to $100,000.

King, however, expects more people to come forward in the future. “After it becomes official policy, if it does, then it just gives a bit of added certainty to the community that yes, this is something the city is quite interested in pursuing.”

In 30 months, the planning staff will again report back to council on the successes or weaknesses of garden suites policy.

Hopefully, by that time some suites will be complete, said King. “It’s easy to talk about numbers and look at drawings but people often have a different reaction, whether positive or negative, when they actually see one built.”

As chair of the Hillside Quadra Neighbourhood Action Group, Doug Rhodes has been involved in the application on Rutledge.

“I think in general the neighbours respond to these based on the site specific circumstances,” said Rhodes. “This one being a corner lot onto a major street with a quite small existing house, plus saving a mature tree, made it a better site than many.”

Also, he added, it helped “that the owner was very considerate of the concerns of his neighbours and made extra efforts to address any concerns.”


Mark your calendar

On Thursday, anyone wanting to voice their opinion on garden suites is invited to the public hearing in the council chambers.



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