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Regulations for secondary suites approved by city council

New regulations for secondary suites within Grande Prairie have officially been given the green light by city council. With that comes a two year grace period for homeowners to start work on conforming their suites to the new rules.

Mayor Bill Given says the city hopes to see people coming forward to find out more now that the regulations have been approved.

“Our goal is to ensure, first off, that all residential accommodations in the community are safe. A secondary concern for us is the impact that [secondary suites have] on surrounding neighbors and we believe that the changes made to the Land Use Bylaw will reduce those concerns that we’ve seen in the past.”

This was the second version of the Secondary Suite restrictions to come before council. The Land Use Bylaw amendment was rejected after the initial public hearing and since then two main changes have been made.

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The first of those changes was lengthening the grace period from one year to two. During that time homeowners will be able to apply for exemption from the rule limiting only three secondary suites to a 50 metre radius.

The second change allows suites only on properties that are 12.2 metres and larger, or 11 metres if there is a lane way behind the home.

City Planner Alison Downing says those with non-conforming suites will also have the next two years to apply for variance exemptions from certain aspects of the new regulations.

Downing says there is some lee way with the restrictions. She says an example of something with some wiggle room would be a suite that is 42 per cent of the size of the home, when the restriction is 40 per cent.

However, she says if an owner did not want to provide any of the required parking, that would likely not be supported by the approving authority.

Downing says she believes roughly two-thirds of all secondary suites in the city are currently non-conforming.

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