Garden suites will soon be coming to Saanich, after a unanimous decision was reached by council on Monday.

Garden suites are purpose-built separate dwellings on a property that are used as rental housing. The motion will be the first time that the municipality allows detached dwellings on a property. Previously, secondary suites had to be attached to a home.

“What we know is that we’re in a housing crisis,” said Saanich Councillor, Ned Taylor.

“We need more housing options in Saanich, we need more affordable housing and although garden suites are not going to be the end-all solution, it is going to be a great way to get a new form of housing into the market which is so desperately needed.”

A number of draft regulations are being developed which will determine the size and design of the rental buildings. In order for a garden suite to be legal and valid they must fall within these guidelines and regulations. 

Garden suites will be permitted in backyards, and in front or beside a home if a request is made and approved by the municipality.

In general, the size of each suite will depend on the ‘lot size classification’ of the property that it will be located on. 

Meanwhile, Saanich heard in their consultation process with residents that parking was a major concern if garden suites were to be permitted. In order to address those concerns, one additional on-site parking stall will have to be provided for each suite. Council says that the additional parking will address safety concerns and impacts on neighbourhood character. 

“We’re doing a develop permit approach for now to get garden suites approved right now,” said Taylor. “In one to two years we’re going to check in and if we feel the need to update things or change that process then we can look at that.”

It’s unknown how much interest will be shown from Saanich residents to build these types of garden suites, but the option is now there for property owners in the Municipality of Saanich.