Secondary Suites

The Village of Lions Bay encourages and supports the creation of safe Secondary Suites, but there are some rules you need to follow if you want to operate a Secondary Suite. They are permitted in all neighbourhoods of Lions Bay through Zoning and Development Bylaw No. 520, 2017, which provides the following definitions:

“secondary suite means a dwelling unit completely contained within what would otherwise be a single detached dwelling and having:

  1. a total floor area of not more than 90m2 in area, and
  2. having a floor area less than 40 percent of the habitable floor area of the building, used only for residential use consistent with the provisions of the Residential Tenancy Act;” and a

“dwelling unit means a set of habitable rooms within a building, used as a residence by not more than one household, that contains:

  1. a separate entrance from the outdoors; and
  2. a gas range or stove or electric range or stove with 240 volt wiring;”

Note: Secondary Suites cannot be rented on a short term basis (i.e. less than a month) through AirBnb, VRBO or other media platforms.

Safety

The safety of Secondary Suites is regulated through Building Bylaw No. 234, as amended, and the BC Building Code. The Municipality’s primary concern is to ensure that all Secondary Suites are safe to occupy, whether occupants are family members or non-family members (i.e. tenants).

 

Building Bylaw No. 234 requires:

 

  • all Suites must be registered
  • new Suites need a Building Permit and must comply with the BC Building Code & Village bylaws the Suite must have its own separate entrance but not separate water service
  • if served by a septic system, the Suite must not cause its capacity to be exceeded
  • and the following minimum safety requirements must be met:
    • Installation of interconnected smoke alarms with CO2 detectors;
    • Fire-rated doors separating the Secondary Suite from the principal building;
    • Minimum rating requirements for ceilings;
    • Mandatory bedroom exit route(s) to meet BC Building Code/regulations.

If you have any questions on how to meet the minimum safety requirements, please contact the Village Office to arrange a meeting with the Building Inspector who will work with you to identify options to achieve the minimum safety requirements and comply with the bylaws. It might not be as painful as you fear.

Parking

The Zoning Bylaw also requires 3 parking stalls on site for each home with a Suite, including 1 for the Suite. This requirement can be met through tandem parking on site, but if you and your tenants have more than 3 vehicles, we will work with you to ensure that parking doesn't result in issues for your neighbours.

Utility Fees

When approval of Suites was first brought in, the OCP was amended to support this but with a reasonable contribution toward the extra utilities consumed as a result of the Suite. An exemption was provided for occupants who are immediate family members.

 

If you have a Secondary Suite which is occupied by someone who is not an immediate family member, then you need to pay the surcharge on your Utilities. The definitions of these italicized words are on the reverse side of the Utilities Notice (and below) and the amount is stated on the front. Options for paying are on the back of the Notice and include: 

 

  • In person at the Village Office;
  • Through the mail slot at the Village Office;
  • By mail to the Village Office; or
  • Online at www.lionsbay.ca/payutilities
Secondary Suite Declaration

You also need to submit the Secondary Suite Declaration that appears on the bottom of your Utilities Notice.

 

  1. Does your property contain a secondary suite?  YES or NO 
  2. If yes, is the secondary suite is occupied?  YES or NO 
  3. If yes, is the secondary suite is occupied by the home owner’s immediate family member?  YES or NO 

IF YOUR SUITE IS OCCUPIED BY A PERSON WHO IS NOT AN IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER,
YOU NEED TO PAY THE SECONDARY SUITE SURCHARGE NOTED ON YOUR UTILITIES NOTICE

 

Definitions per Secondary Suite Surcharge Bylaw No. 513, 2017, as amended (the “Bylaw”):

 

immediate family member means a parent, brother, sister, child (including an adopted or step child), father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law, and in addition, other relatives in the case that they are being supported financially by the property owner;

 

occupied means inhabited for periods of one month or longer within a calendar year or advertising for habitation or residency for periods of one month or longer within a calendar year;

 

Section 7 of the Bylaw requires ALL property owners to answer the Declaration questions on the Utilities Notice. The following options are available for reporting the required information:

 

  1. Remit the lower portion of your Utilities Notice
    1. In person at the Village Office
    2. Through the mail slot at the Village Office
    3. By mail to the Village Office
    4. By email to accounting@lionsbay.ca
    5. By fax to: 604-921-6643
  2. Submit your answers online
Inspections

We know that not all Suites are created equal and the circumstances for each home will be unique. As noted, we are happy to work with you to help figure out your best options to enable you to comply with the requirements for a Secondary Suite.

 

All Secondary Suites, whether new or existing, and whether occupied by a family member or a non-family member, must be inspected and approved. Our principal concern is safety.

Enforcement

Failure to comply with all the requirements for a Secondary Suite is subject to a fine of $475/day. We really don’t want to go down that road, but we will if necessary.

 

Other enforcement tools include registration of a notice on the title of your property that you are not compliant with our bylaws. And of course we can seek an injunction from the Supreme Court of BC if the situation warrants it.

 

However, we’re much more interested in working with home owners to help them ensure that their Suites are safe and compliant. There may be options to achieve compliance that you hadn’t thought of or didn’t know existed. Sometimes those options can be less onerous and less expensive than you might think.

How to Get Rid of an Existing Secondary Suite

If you don’t want to meet the requirements for a Secondary Suite, and have no intention of letting anyone occupy the Suite, then it needs to be decommissioned. This involves removal of the cooking appliance and its wiring. It cannot be occupied by anyone as a Secondary Suite. For more information on this process, please contact the Village Office.