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Secondary suites & backyard suites

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Apply or legalize a suite, suite benefits, tenant safety tips & Suite Registry

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Secondary Suites

Apply or legalize a suite, suite benefits, tenant safety tips & Suite Registry

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PD Secondary Suites

New rules for Secondary Suites

Information

On March 12, 2018 City Council, approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that allow secondary suites as discretionary use within R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L land use districts.  Council directed Administration to return with standards relating to the design of backyard suites across all land use districts before the end of 2018.

http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Home-building-and-renovations/Secondary-Suite-Process-Reform.aspx, More information

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Information | New rules for Secondary Suites

On March 12, 2018 City Council, approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that allow secondary suites as discretionary use within R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L land use districts.  Council directed Administration to return with standards relating to the design of backyard suites across all land use districts before the end of 2018.
More information

Watch our playlist on secondary suites

Secondary suites benefits

Home owner

  • Choice to invest in your home.
  • Boosts income and helps pay down a mortgage.
  • Enables extended family to live nearby by providing accommodations for elderly parents, disabled family members or children.
  • Allows seniors to remain in their home and community while on a fixed income.
  • Downsize space without moving out of your neighbourhood.
  • Often increases the value of your property for re-sale.

People

  • Increases the places people can live and afford.
  • Unlike many apartment units, secondary suites are primarily ground-oriented and have access to a yard.
  • Homes with secondary suites are often in established neighbourhoods near schools, parks, recreation centres, and other amenities.
  • Legal and safe secondary suites have met all the requirements under Alberta’s Safety Codes Act (building, trade and fire codes).

Community

  • Suites help maintain a community's population with modest growth.
  • Maximizes the use of existing infrastructure in a neighbourhood.
  • Community population is stabilized without significantly changing the character of existing neighbourhoods
  • Neighbourhoods have more housing options for families, helping bring children back into areas where school enrolment has declined.

City

  • Improves safe rental stock.
  • Population stability results in better use of land and City services, like transit.
  • Creates choice in Calgary's housing market, helping to attract and retain employees in Calgary.

Suite registry

What is the secondary suite registry?

The secondary suite registry is an online, searchable list identifying legal and safe secondary suites in Calgary. These suites have been registered and inspected to meet Alberta’s safety code requirements. Go to secondarysuites.calgary.ca to view the registry.

What is the goal of the registry?

The registry aims to build awareness with Calgarians about the importance of public safety, and the safety features of a legal secondary suite. Suites that have been inspected by The City and meet the requirements under Alberta’s safety codes provide the necessary measures to help protect lives.

What are the advantages of the registry and sticker for owners?

Registered secondary suites are listed on The City’s website and receive a numbered sticker that can be posted at the main entrance of the suite. Owners can use the registry and sticker as a means to promote their suite to current and future residents.

Is there a cost to be on the registry?

Not currently, however, Council directed Administration to return with further clarity of the registry requirements before the end of 2018. The registry program is intended to promote the importance of safe secondary suites for Calgarians.

How do I get a secondary suite sticker for my suite?

Existing legal and safe secondary suites have been sent a letter, and two numbered stickers for their suite. If you own a legal and safe suite that doesn’t appear on the registry, please contact 311.

New secondary suite owners will be added to the registry and will receive a pair of numbered stickers following their final building permit inspection. A safety codes officer will provide the stickers to homeowners.

Where do I place the sticker on my property?

We recommend placing the stickers on the entry point of the suite. This informs current and future residents that suite is part of The City’s registry program.

If the property is sold, does the registry transfer to the new owner?

Yes. The registry is connected to the address containing the legal and safe secondary suite.

How long is the sticker valid for?

There is no expiry date.

Can I make modifications to my secondary suite after the building permit is approved?

Any changes to your secondary suite could require additional permits and inspections. To ensure modifications meet the requirements of Alberta’s safety codes and do not alter the safety features of your suite, contact The City’s Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for assistance.

What penalties might I face for owning an unsafe suite?

Illegal secondary suite owners can be charged under the Safety Codes Act for code deficiencies. A conviction under the Safety Codes Act carries a maximum fine of $100,000 for a first offence.

Can I be removed from the registry?

Yes. The City investigates all complaints, should your secondary suite be found to no longer comply with Alberta’s safety codes, your suite will be removed from the registry.


Safety measures that can save your life

The safety requirements under Alberta’s safety codes are meant to protect people in the event of an emergency, like a fire. Here are just three important safety features to keep in mind, and always check for when considering any place to live:

Key things to check for

Windows

Each bedroom should have at least one window that can be opened from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge. The window should be unobstructed, and it should be accessible and large enough for anyone to fit through. If the window has security bars, they should be operable from the inside without the use of any tools.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be present in each unit within the house, and connected to each other so that activation of one alarm would cause all alarms within both units to sound. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be inspected, tested and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Exits

Each unit within the house should have at least one exit that leads directly outside. Every exit door should be able to swing inward.

Success stories

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Secondary Suites

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<div class="ExternalClass45B5E619A7BF4D929FFD91274A686072"><p>​Canada's first net-positive backyard suite, generating more electricity than it uses, is also a part of The City of Calgary's legal and safe secondary suite registry.​</p></div>

http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Scripts/layout/secondary-suites/images/success-story-1.jpg, /PDA/pd/Scripts/layout/secondary-suites/images/success-story-1.jpg

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Watch the video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMcVd_FEhbI&feature=youtu.be, Canada's first energy net-positive secondary suite

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Green suite

Green suite

​Canada's first net-positive backyard suite, generating more electricity than it uses, is also a part of The City of Calgary's legal and safe secondary suite registry.​

Watch the video

Sean and Dani Hayes

Sean and Dani Hayes

​Sean and Dani tell us why they think the development permit exemption and suite registry programs are worthwhile.​​

Watch the video

Kim Ketchum

Kim Ketchum

​Kim shares her experience in building a legal and safe secondary suite in Calgary.

Watch the video