Calgarians to benefit from streamlined secondary suite application process

Calgarians to benefit from streamlined secondary suite application process

On March 12, 2018, City Council approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw to allow secondary suites as a discretionary use within R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L land use districts. Council also directed Administration to return with new rules for backyard suites in these districts before the end of 2018.

Now, instead of applying to Council, home owners will file a development permit with the planning department. Applications will be reviewed by planning staff and a decision made based on its planning merits and whether it follows the requirements for secondary suites. Community associations and neighbours are also given the opportunity to provide comments during the review process, and a decision on a discretionary development permit may be appealed.

​Owners of illegal suites will now have an easier time applying for the proper permits required to bring their suites up to safety standards.

“With these changes, we anticipate more owners of illegal suites coming forward with applications to upgrade their suites, to make them safer,” says Lisa Kahn, Growth Strategies Coordinator at The City of Calgary. “The proposed changes mean that property owners have the ability to develop a suite without having to go through the lengthy City Council approval process, but will work with Planning and Development staff at The City of Calgary to ensure that all the requirements – like off-street parking, window sizes and safety codes – are met.”

The mandatory suite registry was also approved along with a 2-year amnesty period (until June 1, 2020). This will allow the City to work with owners of existing illegal suites to make them legal and safe. As part of the amnesty, the development permit fee and the registry fee will be waived for all applicants. Applications made after June 1, 2020 will be required to pay the development permit fee and the suite registry fee.

The mandatory registry will contain a list of all legal and safe secondary suites in Calgary, allowing potential tenants to verify if a suite has met the life safety requirements under Alberta Safety Codes before renting. Legal suites not currently on the registry can voluntarily register from now until June 1st 2020 for free. Council has asked administration to come back with further details and requirements on how the registry could function as a monitoring tool for safe and compliant suites before June 1, 2018.

While the addition of backyard suites to these land use areas was approved, Council directed not to accept applications for these uses in these districts until administration comes back before the end of the year with guidelines and recommendations on design.

More information, and updates on these changes, can be found online at