Secondary Suites

Current Status

In the Town of Gibsons, the current definition of a secondary suite is “an accessory dwelling unit located within a single-family dwelling, and having an area no more than 40% of the total gross floor area of the building.”

Secondary suites located within the Town are subject to the following general regulations:

  1. Where the single-family dwelling is serviced by an on-site sewage system, confirmation must be received in writing from the applicable licensing body that the capacity of the sewer system will not be compromised by the secondary suite use; and
  2. A secondary suite must be available for use as a domicile on a year-round basis and must be rented for periods not shorter than one month.

Secondary suites are permitted in Zones: R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, RLL, RCL, and RCL-2.

Planned Amendments

In December 2019, the BC Building Code changed the technical standard for secondary suites, allowing them to be constructed in duplexes and townhouses, as long as there is a vertical fire separation from the foundation to the roof separating each single real estate entity. Given this technical update, and with a view to increasing the affordable housing available within the Town of Gibsons, staff determined that some amendments to our Zoning Bylaw were required. See Table of Proposed Changes re: Secondary Suites here.

On June 16, 2020, staff reported to the Planning and Development Committee on the proposed changes, which include:

  1. Updating and adding new definitions to the Zoning Bylaw to provide a method for outlining which dwelling unit on a property is the accessory dwelling;
  2. Introducing “Lock-off suites” (an accessory rental dwelling unit within an apartment);
  3. Updating the parking requirements to require a parking space on site. However, there is some flexibility – if the property is within a 200m radius of a bus stop and on-street parking is permitted adjacent to the property, no additional spaces are required;
  4. Clarifying density: the principal dwelling unit, i.e. the single family dwelling, townhouse unit, or duplex unit should be seen as one unit, regardless of whether it includes a separate suite for rental accommodation; and
  5. Staff have removed the statement that secondary suites are to be rented on a year-round basis for more than 30 days at a time. This is due to the proposed addition of Short-Term Rentals to the Zoning Bylaw.
  6. Secondary suites are proposed to be permitted in Single-Family Dwellings, Duplexes, and Townhouses in most residential zones. Lock-Off suites are proposed to be permitted in apartment units.

Secondary suites provide affordable housing, both by providing rental accommodation, and by providing an income for homeowners with either long-term or short-term renters.

The related Staff Report, which includes background information on the BC Building Code changes and a full description of proposed changes to the OCP and Zoning Bylaws can be found here.

Virtual Public Hearing – July 14 2020 at 5:30 pm

On June 24, 2020, Council set a Virtual Public Hearing for Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 5:30pm.

At this meeting, Council will hear from the public on two bylaw amendments related to Secondary Suites and Lock-off Suites:

OCP Bylaw Amendment 985-27, 2020

Zoning Bylaw Amendment 1065-58, 2020

If you have comments about these bylaw amendments, that you would like Council to consider, please participate in the Virtual Public Hearing. Details on how to participate can be found here.

How do I create a secondary suite?

Step 1: Contact the Planning Department to check your zoning, and review the current Town of Gibsons regulations for secondary suites.

Step 2: Prepare your plans and apply for a Building Permit.

Step 3: Begin construction and book your inspections.

Step 4: Complete construction and request final inspection.

Step 5: Receive Occupancy and start renting out your new secondary suite.

What fees and charges apply to a Secondary Suite?

A Building Permit is based on value of construction – see the Town’s Rates, Fees and Charges Bylaw here.

Utility Billing: a dwelling with a secondary suite is charged an additional sanitary user rate and an additional garbage/organics user rate every 6 months.

Rates for 2020 are as follows:

Sanitary User Rates (Domestic), per dwelling unit:          $130.81 (6-month period)

Garbage and Organics User Rates, per dwelling unit:     $102.50 (6-month period)