The city reviewed its secondary suite bylaw in 2013. Maple Ridge was among the first to create a bylaw regulating secondary suites in 1999. (Contributed)

The city reviewed its secondary suite bylaw in 2013. Maple Ridge was among the first to create a bylaw regulating secondary suites in 1999. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge looking to squeeze in more secondary suites

Staff suggest suites in duplexes, townhouses and condos.

Maple Ridge keeps trying to find ways to create more rental apartments in order to help ease the housing crisis.

In 2013, the city reviewed its secondary suites bylaw, which allows suites in single-family homes. Now the city is now seeing if it can allow them in duplexes, townhouse and condo developments, and in homes that are not owner-occupied.

Council, on Tuesday, looked at a plan that will trot out the ideas in workshops and an open house this October and November, with results of that feedback forwarded to it.

Coun. Craig Speirs said it’s not the living space for people that’s the tough part. It’s finding places for all the people to park their vehicles so they don’t end up crowding streets and each other’s driveways.

“It’s all about the parking. That’s the one that sticks with the public.”

He said every secondary suite has to have enough parking to accommodate the people who live there. Parking needs to be either on the property, or somewhere on the grounds of a condo development.

Despite that challenge, “it’s going to make it a lot easier for people to create affordable housing.”

Maple Ridge now has 400 secondary suites with another 200 currently in the process.

In August, Maple Ridge resident Vince Kinney was looking for a home after the city enforced its bylaw that bans absentee landlords from having more than one suite in a house.

Speirs said some cities already allow secondary suites in condos or townhouses.

A staff report says the City of North Vancouver allows secondary suites on either side in duplexes, basically doubling the number of units. Staff are recommending that council allow those here, as well.

Burnaby, North Vancouver and Richmond also allow secondary suites in multi-family developments, with Burnaby and Richmond limiting the size of the suites to no more than 35 per cent of the gross floor area.

Such units must have their own bathrooms, their own kitchens and separate entrances.

Another recommendation is to allow homes to have both secondary suites and garden suites.

According to the report, the number of complaints from people about secondary suites in Maple Ridge has dropped steadily since 2014.

That year, 67 people complained about secondary suites.

But so far this year, there have been only 17 complaints.

After the 2013 review, the city opted to continue to require landlords to live in the same house where a secondary suite exists and continued to ban suites that had rear-basement entrances.

There’s also almost a 50-50 split in the number of cities that require or don’t require owners to occupy homes that have secondary suites.

Maple Ridge, Mission, Langley township, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Surrey, and West Vancouer all require owners to live in the homes where there are secondary suites.

Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, White Rock and Vancouver don’t have any such requirement.