Saanich is one step closer to allowing residents to build garden suites on their properties.
On Monday (Aug. 17) the district’s garden suite study outlining the necessary bylaw amendments to legalize garden suites – small, detached rental structures – in the municipality will come to council for consideration. Staff have recommended council give three readings to a Delegation Authorization Bylaw, a Land Use and Development Procedures Bylaw and a Land Use and Development Application Fee Bylaw amendment.
Council has also been asked to send two items to public hearing – an amendment to the zoning bylaw to permit garden suites on residential properties, and an amendment to add a development permit area for garden suites to the Official Community Plan bylaw.
Delegating the suite approvals to staff would expedite the process, Mayor Fred Haynes explained. He added that rather than waiting for each application to come to council, only those requiring variances would require council consideration – meaning approvals could be granted in just a few weeks.
Haynes sees garden suites bringing a variety of benefits to Saanich by allowing residents to “age in place,” providing “financial flexibility” to homeowners, and keeping families close to one another. He added that garden suites could also be a factor in addressing the housing crisis.
There has already been significant public input on legalizing garden suites in Saanich, but if council approves staff’s recommendations on Monday, the matter would move to a public hearing, Haynes said.
Saanich has been considering allowing garden suites for several years. In 2017, council approved a study of the impacts of legalizing garden suites and survey results showed residents were in favour. After some delay, in October 2019 council approved a regulatory framework.
While the proposed garden suite bylaws don’t include stipulations for short-term rental situations such as Airbnb accommodations, Haynes said council will be looking at options for permitting them in the future.