Metchosin legalizes detached suites

Metchosin council ended the debate on detached secondary suites by voting June 11 to legalize them.

Just because detached secondary suites have been legalized in Metchosin, it doesn’t mean all suites in the municipality are now officially legal.

Metchosin council ended the debate on detached secondary suites by voting June 11 to legalize them.

It marked the beginning of regulating detached suites in Metchosin, which must be registered to comply. As of Monday, municipal staff had yet to see a single applicant.

“Now people have the opportunity to legalize and legitimize,” Mayor John Ranns said.

The bylaw’s primary focus right now is on new construction. In the fall, council will begin to work on Phase 2, which will focus on enforcing the regulations for existing suites.

“Just because you have (a detached suite), whether or not it conforms to the bylaw, it it still illegal do so without the land use,” said Coun. Bob Gramigna. “(Properties) with multiple detached suites is one of the issues.”

Even with dozens of illegal suites in Metchosin, Ranns is not surprised no one has stepped up to register.

“This has been 20 years in the making,” Ranns said. “We know there have been illegal ones in the district.”

East Sooke has only had three people register since the electoral area legalized detached suites two years ago.

East Sooke’s bylaw is a lot more lenient than Metchosin’s and Ranns expects it will take some time before homeowners come forward.

“You have really strict zoning in Metchosin,” said Zachary Doeding, president of the Association of B.C. Land Owners and an East Sooke resident.

The five-page bylaw has many criteria that homeowners must meet before a detached secondary suite is declared legal.

Terms include that the size of the suite cannot be more than 70 square metres and it cannot exist on a property that already has a secondary suite.

An accessory building, such as a barn, used as a detached secondary suite cannot be used simultaneously for any other purpose.

A detached suite must also be within 15 metres of the principal dwelling.

While East Sooke hasn’t had many detached suites registered, Doeding said legalizing the detached suites was a positive step for the community.

“We need it because land is so expensive,” Doeding said.

“The density is not overwhelming.”

The decision to allow detached suites was made after extensive round table discussions, community surveys and a non-binding referendum during the last election.

“We have done our best through this very long process,” Ranns said.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

No population explosion expected

Even with the legalization of detached suites, Mayor John Ranns said he doesn’t expect a population boom.

Metchosin has been allowing secondary suites for 30 years.

An attached suite can be a two-bedroom, but detached suites can be no larger than a one-bedroom.

Homeowners are only allowed one suite, either located in the main dwelling or detached from it. Only homes on large lots can have a detached suite, but all homes can include a secondary suite.

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