Garden Suites – Coach Houses

Garden Suites were adopted into the Town of Gibsons Zoning Bylaw on April 7, 2015. This page provides some information about Garden Suites and the process to obtain permission to construct them. Detailed information is provided in the Garden Suites Guide.

For information about the Garden Suite Policy Review which is currently underway (March 2021), please scroll to the bottom of the page.

What are Garden Suites?

Commonly referred to as coach houses or laneway homes, Garden Suites are small detached dwelling units that are usually found at the rear of a property. Garden Suites are primarily rental suites and can come in a variety of forms. Garden suites are usually accessed through a lane.

Why Garden Suites?

Garden Suites use existing infrastructure, providing a sustainable and economical way to increase and diversify the rental housing stock. They provide housing for a variety of people, including those who would like to downsize, relatives of homeowners, aging parents and renters who would like a detached dwelling rather than a condo or basement suite. Rental income also provides a “mortgage helper” for homeowners.

Is there a specific area that Garden Suites are allowed?

Yes. Garden Suites are only allowed in some areas of the Town of Gibsons. This is due to the prevalence of laneways in some areas of the town and the direction of the Official Community Plan.

What is the process to develop a Garden Suite?

First, you must own property in a Garden Suite Designated Area to be able to build a Garden Suite. View a full-sized map of designated areas here. Once you have confirmed this, there is a two-step process for developing a Garden Suite:

1. Apply for a Development Permit for Form and Character

Submit an application to develop a Garden Suite to the Town. The application will show the proposed design, form and character in response to the Official Community Plan’s design guidelines for Garden Suites. The proposal will also need to address the setbacks and height requirements for Garden Suites, as outlined in the Zoning Bylaw.

Once the application is complete, the proposal will go to the Advisory Design Panel (ADP), to assess if the design fits with the guidelines.

The ADP sends its recommendations to Council, who ultimately decide whether to issue the Development Permit.

2. Building Permit

If a Development Permit is issued, the applicant can now apply for a Building Permit and begin construction.
OCP Development Permit Guidelines for Garden Suites
Can I build a Garden Suite?
Need more information?

If you have a question regarding Garden Suites please contact the Planning Department at 604-886-2274 or send us an email with “Garden Suites” in the subject line.

Garden Suite Policy Review

In 2015, when the Town’s Garden Suite Policy was first adopted, emphasis was placed on the importance of monitoring and evaluating the program over time, with a view to adjusting the policy parameters if necessary.

In July 2020, an overview of the program to date was undertaken. Read the related staff report 2020-07-28 here.

That review found that since its inception in April 2015, 12 Development Permits for Garden Suites had been issued, with 7 garden suites built and 4 under construction. As the program uptake was less than anticipated, staff is currently conducting a more in-depth review.

In Q1 2021, planning staff surveyed the residents who had been granted development permits for a Garden Suite. The survey feedback will inform criteria for the expansion of the garden suites program, updates to regulations and guidelines, and identify opportunities for reducing costs and streamlining the application and development process. A report on survey outcomes is expected to be presented to Council in Q2 2021.