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Secondary Suites

Secondary suites

Watch our playlist on secondary suites


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:


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.


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

Creating a legal and safe basement suite

There is a big advantage to developing or legalizing a basement suite now because you may be able to skip the development permit step, saving you both time and money. City Council has approved an 18-month long development permit exemption that ends on March 3, 2017. See applying for a secondary suite for more.


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.


  • 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).


  • 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.


  • 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.​

Success Stories​​

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Laneway Experience

Mattew Kennedy and Mark Erickson work with The City to legally build a backyard secondary suite in Parkdale.

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Martin Tremblay

Martin Tremblay is building a secondary suite in his home so he can care for his mother.​

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