Editor, The News:
Re: Secondary suites to be reviewed (The News, July 20).
Council needs to change the conversation over secondary suites to address the real issue: capacity
The challenges with secondary suites lie with issues of capacity. Be it parking, sewer, water, schools or various other municipal services. These issue are directly and exclusively impacted by the number of occupants of any given residential dwelling.
The current discussion has done nothing do address these challenges and instead has focused on development issues, zoning and bylaw enforcement.
Until we look at the actual number of residents allowed to occupy a given dwelling, none of these problems will be solved.
I currently own a 3,000-square-foot home with my wife and no children. We rent a suite to a young couple, again with no children. There are a total of four occupants residing in a home with five bedrooms and four bathrooms.
We provide on property parking for four vehicles (two in the garage, no less).
My suite is still deemed illegal, even though it was constructed with permits and fully inspected by the district.
Alternatively, a neighbor currently has two families (his own and his brother’s) totalling five adults and six children living in his primary residence, along with a secondary suite (also illegal), occupied by three adults and two children. They also park seven vehicles each night, with three inevitably ending up on the street as they have converted their garage to rental space (without permits or inspections).
I ask council: who is really the problem here?
Who is overtaxing our services?
Who is not paying their fair share of taxes?
The home with four occupants or that with 16?
Now, to be clear, there should be no limits on the number of occupants where a secondary suite is not concerned. There are cultural issues, I understand, and am sympathetic to where by the definition of a family unit varies.
But where there is a secondary suite involved for profit, there needs to be limits on the total number of occupants allowed within a single family home. A ratio of occupants to square feet and consideration given to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms would be appropriate to prevent such excessive demands of our municipal services.
I agree that enforcement would be a difficult proposition, but I’m confident council and administrators at municipal hall have the necessary skills and expertise to study and define policy and enforcement to solve such a obvious gap in the approach to date.
Until they do, the problems will persist.