Maple Ridge city hall. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Maple Ridge city hall. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Maple Ridge looking at increasing secondary suites

Public consultation coming about plan to allow more mortgage helpers

The City of Maple Ridge is working toward allowing more secondary suites, both for mortgage helpers, and as affordable housing.

Council approved bylaw changes to eliminate a minimum gross floor area of 37 metres in secondary suites at its on Sept. 27 meeting.

The next step will be talking to residents.

Earlier in the day on Sept. 27, council reviewed a report about permitting secondary suites in all single detached and ground-oriented duplex zones in the city. This staff work had been directed by council in April this year, and council approved a plan to get feedback from residents.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge council debates allowing more secondary suites

A staff report in April noted that with the price of single family homes rising to a $1.36 million benchmark price, a family would face monthly mortgage payments of approximately $5,000.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef said the proposed changes could have a lot of impact on neighbourhoods.

“I appreciate the cautious approach of getting public input before drafting policies that truly have potential to change the faces of neighbourhoods,” said Yousef. “As Coun. (Gordy) Robson has alluded to a few times, if the whole neighborhood decides to go with secondary suites that will change the entire dynamics and face of that neighbourhood.”

Robson said parking in neighbourhoods with many suites will be an issue, as well as problem tenants.

“Obviously we want to create more housing options – there’s so many benefits to that for the community,” said Coun. Ryan Svendsen. “It’s going to create more supply, (and) bring the prices down for those looking for those kinds of units.”

Svendsen also expressed concern about adequate parking space in neighbourhoods, and said he wants to hear from the public.

“The purpose here is to provide affordable housing, mortgage helpers,” said Mayor Michael Morden, “but also to respect our neighbourhoods as we go through them, and do gentrification work that we need in order to capitalize on our infrastructure and meet our populations that are coming anyways…”

The staff report noted that a lack of rental units is causing a substantial housing cost increase in the rental market.

The city will ask for public input through a community survey, open houses, and industry consultation.

Staff will also be engaging with the development community through the Urban Development Institute (UDI) and Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN).

The bylaw amendments are scheduled to be made by spring or summer of 2023. City staff have been told to relax enforcement of secondary suites bylaws, other than for nuisance situations.

READ ALSO: Outgoing councillor says Maple Ridge behind on infrastructure

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