Council gives the green light to secondary suites

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On Monday council voted in favour of more secondary suite options in St. Albert. The changes are part of the amended Land Use Bylaw.

Prior to the amended document only basements could be built into secondary suites. Now the bylaw allows garage suites and garden suites in addition to basement suites.

Mayor Cathy Heron said she expects the new Land Use Bylaw to increase how many applications they receive to build secondary suites.

Heron said at one point the city received money from the province, with part of the funds going towards building secondary suites. Residents could access up to $15,000 to renovate a basement into a secondary suite.

“And that was oversubscribed; lots of people wanted to do it,” she said.

In order to access the funds, people had to agree to rent the suite out at below-market rates for a minimum of five years.

The city eventually ran out of the funds, but Heron said the requests kept coming.

“I do know when I was door-knocking somebody a secondary suite over their garage. I think there is interest for that,” she said.

Heron adds that people who have children with disabilities now have more options when it comes to housing. As their children become adults, they can now live independently while still living close to their family.

In one case, Heron said she saw someone in Edmonton with a sea can on their property where an elderly grandmother lived. The dwelling had proper cooking, washroom, living, and sleeping facilities.

Under the new bylaw, secondary suites are only approved for single detached homes.

On Jan. 15 Ian McKerracher, resident of St. Albert, came to council to advocate for secondary suites.

He said he wanted to build a suite on his property in Grandin so that his daughter could purchase his home.

He said multi-generational living is common in other parts of the world, but not in Canada. By living on the property, McKerracher could stay close to his daughter and grandchildren.

“She has a couple of kids, she’s got her husband, and they can all live in that part while we live in the addition,” he said.

McKerracher said having a secondary suite on the property would ultimately reduce the burden on social services as they rely on their family in times of need. Likewise, as his children need help McKerracher would be close by to provide it.

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.