Council to take another look at secondary suites

  • Sep. 7, 2016 2:32 p.m.

One City councillor wants to lower the amount of secondary suites in Red Deer neighbourhoods.

Councillor Lawrence Lee put forward a Notice of Motion at last week’s council meeting. The motion stated secondary suites provided an alternate housing option particularly during the economic upswing when housing options were limited, but are less required and desired now that a great variety of house options are routinely available.

Currently 15% of the total number of detached dwelling units within a neighbourhood are permitted to have secondary suites, without limitations to the number on a specific street or area. Lee said in his motion that this can result in clustering of secondary suites resulting in neighbourhood impacts in terms of density, noise, traffic, parking, etc.

Because of this, Lee has proposed the overall percentage of secondary suites within a given neighbourhood be reduced to 10% of the total number of detached units. He has also proposed the total of secondary suites on any street be limited to no more than 10% of the total number of detached dwelling units on that street.

During last week’s meeting, Lee’s Notice of Motion was tabled for up to 12 weeks so administration could look at the data gathered and bring back a recommendation to council.

“There are a couple of neighbourhoods over 15 per cent with the majority of neighbourhoods under 10 per cent,” said Lee.

The neighbourhoods exceeding the 15% limit include the South Hill with 22% and West Park (east) with 16%. Michener Hill is also approaching the cap at 14.17%.

“Ultimately my intention with this Notice of Motion is to reduce secondary suites all across the City overall. I don’t think they are as accountable or as safe for the community as buildings that are actually built for multi-family dwellings,” said Lee. “I think secondary suites were a temporary measure to address a housing crisis that was in the City.

“I believe the better choices are the choices that are built for, planned for and developed as affordable or multi- family housing, as opposed to I want somebody to help pay my mortgage so I am going to put them in a suite, but all of those other building considerations never come into play.”

Lee made the Notice of Motion after sitting on the Municipal Planning Commission and seeing multiple applications for secondary suites come to MPC for approval.

“I get to talk to a lot of people and see the letters that are submitted with a lot of secondary suite applications. I see the objections that are being submitted and a lot of those arise around elements of safety, parking issues, the care and condition of those secondary suites, neighbourhood appeal and devaluation of market – I saw those starting to come to fruition,” he said.

“I think this is the start to move towards better neighbourhood planning.”