Expanding Secondary Suite & Detached Suite Regulations

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

Consultation has concluded

What is a secondary suite?

A secondary suite is a self-contained unit with a separate entrance, kitchen, living area, and one or two bedrooms, attached to a primary dwelling unit. They typically take form as a basement within a single residential dwelling. Secondary suites are typically rented by homeowners and provide accommodation for one or more individuals.

What is a detached suite?

A detached suite is a self-contained unit with a separate entrance, kitchen, living area, and one or two bedrooms that is situated on the same lot as a single residential dwelling unit. They may also be known as a coach house, carriage house, laneway house, granny flat or garden suite. Detached suites are typically rented by homeowners and provide accommodation for one or more individuals.

Why expand the regulations to allow additional suites?

Secondary suites have been allowed in Nanaimo since 2005, and detached suites have been allowed since 2008. In 2022, 65% of new single residential dwellings were constructed with a secondary suite. These types of homes play a significant role in Nanaimo's rental housing stock and can assist property owners as a mortgage helper.

Currently, detached suites are only allowed on corner lots, lots next to a lane, and lots greater than 800 m² in area. The City is proposing to expand the zoning to allow detached suites on through lots (lots with two front yards), and lots that are 500 m² or greater in area. By allowing more detached suites, we can increase the number of homes available to residents.

Under current regulations, detached suites are permitted on:

  1. Corner lots;
  2. Lots next to a lane; and
  3. Lots greater than 800 m²

=alt

=alt


The proposed changes include expanding the eligibility of detached suites to:=alt

  1. Corner lots;
  2. Lots next to a lane;
  3. Lots greater than 800 m² ;
  4. Lots with an area of at least 500 m² ; and
  5. Through-lots (lots with two front yards). 

How many suites do the existing regulations allow?

Under current zoning, a lot greater than 370 m² is eligible to have one secondary suite, where a 'Single Residential Dwelling' is a permitted use and the property is zoned:

  • Residential;
  • Agriculture Rural Residential;
  • Corridor;
  • Commercial Centre; or
  • Downtown

Single Residential Dwelling lots are permitted to have one detached secondary suite if the lot is:

  • More than 800 m² ; or
  • A corner lot; or
  • Next to a lane

=alt

=alt


What do the proposed regulations look like?

The City is proposing that up to two secondary suites (one attached and one detached) be permitted on a lot, provided the lot:

  • Has an area of at least 800 m² ; and
  • Has a minimum street frontage of 15 metres.

These changes will increase the number of secondary suites allowed on a 'Residential' zoned lot.

Lots with an area of at least 800 m² will typically have the necessary area to accommodate both an attached suite and detached suite, with required parking, as shown in the conceptual site plan above. A minimum 15 metre lot frontage will ensure adequate space for vehicle parking and access from the street.

In addition, these new changes propose an increase to the maximum allowable size of a secondary suite from 90 m² to 100 m² (up to a maximum of 40% of the buildings floor area), and the maximum number of bedrooms from two to three, so that suites can accommodate families when needed.

=alt

Expanding secondary suite regulations in Duplexes & Townhouses

Currently, secondary suites are only permitted where there is a single residential dwelling as the principal use (not a duplex or townhouse). The City is proposing to allow secondary suites in duplexes and townhouses, as is now permitted by the BC Building Code. By aligning these regulations, we can increase density within existing neighbourhoods without changing the look or feel of the neighbourhood.

What about parking?

No reduction to the parking requirements is proposed at this time as part of the secondary suite or infill housing initiatives. On-site parking is regulated by the City of Nanaimo "Off-Street Parking Regulations Bylaw 2018 No. 7266" and are as follows:

  • Single Residential Dwelling = two parking space per unit
  • Secondary Suite and Detached Suites = one parking space per unit

What is a secondary suite?

A secondary suite is a self-contained unit with a separate entrance, kitchen, living area, and one or two bedrooms, attached to a primary dwelling unit. They typically take form as a basement within a single residential dwelling. Secondary suites are typically rented by homeowners and provide accommodation for one or more individuals.

What is a detached suite?

A detached suite is a self-contained unit with a separate entrance, kitchen, living area, and one or two bedrooms that is situated on the same lot as a single residential dwelling unit. They may also be known as a coach house, carriage house, laneway house, granny flat or garden suite. Detached suites are typically rented by homeowners and provide accommodation for one or more individuals.

Why expand the regulations to allow additional suites?

Secondary suites have been allowed in Nanaimo since 2005, and detached suites have been allowed since 2008. In 2022, 65% of new single residential dwellings were constructed with a secondary suite. These types of homes play a significant role in Nanaimo's rental housing stock and can assist property owners as a mortgage helper.

Currently, detached suites are only allowed on corner lots, lots next to a lane, and lots greater than 800 m² in area. The City is proposing to expand the zoning to allow detached suites on through lots (lots with two front yards), and lots that are 500 m² or greater in area. By allowing more detached suites, we can increase the number of homes available to residents.

Under current regulations, detached suites are permitted on:

  1. Corner lots;
  2. Lots next to a lane; and
  3. Lots greater than 800 m²

=alt

=alt


The proposed changes include expanding the eligibility of detached suites to:=alt

  1. Corner lots;
  2. Lots next to a lane;
  3. Lots greater than 800 m² ;
  4. Lots with an area of at least 500 m² ; and
  5. Through-lots (lots with two front yards). 

How many suites do the existing regulations allow?

Under current zoning, a lot greater than 370 m² is eligible to have one secondary suite, where a 'Single Residential Dwelling' is a permitted use and the property is zoned:

  • Residential;
  • Agriculture Rural Residential;
  • Corridor;
  • Commercial Centre; or
  • Downtown

Single Residential Dwelling lots are permitted to have one detached secondary suite if the lot is:

  • More than 800 m² ; or
  • A corner lot; or
  • Next to a lane

=alt

=alt


What do the proposed regulations look like?

The City is proposing that up to two secondary suites (one attached and one detached) be permitted on a lot, provided the lot:

  • Has an area of at least 800 m² ; and
  • Has a minimum street frontage of 15 metres.

These changes will increase the number of secondary suites allowed on a 'Residential' zoned lot.

Lots with an area of at least 800 m² will typically have the necessary area to accommodate both an attached suite and detached suite, with required parking, as shown in the conceptual site plan above. A minimum 15 metre lot frontage will ensure adequate space for vehicle parking and access from the street.

In addition, these new changes propose an increase to the maximum allowable size of a secondary suite from 90 m² to 100 m² (up to a maximum of 40% of the buildings floor area), and the maximum number of bedrooms from two to three, so that suites can accommodate families when needed.

=alt

Expanding secondary suite regulations in Duplexes & Townhouses

Currently, secondary suites are only permitted where there is a single residential dwelling as the principal use (not a duplex or townhouse). The City is proposing to allow secondary suites in duplexes and townhouses, as is now permitted by the BC Building Code. By aligning these regulations, we can increase density within existing neighbourhoods without changing the look or feel of the neighbourhood.

What about parking?

No reduction to the parking requirements is proposed at this time as part of the secondary suite or infill housing initiatives. On-site parking is regulated by the City of Nanaimo "Off-Street Parking Regulations Bylaw 2018 No. 7266" and are as follows:

  • Single Residential Dwelling = two parking space per unit
  • Secondary Suite and Detached Suites = one parking space per unit