Residential neighbourhoods in Grande Prairie could soon see an influx of secondary suite development if a proposed bylaw amendment is passed. The Grande Prairie Homebuilders Association has put forward a recommendation to the City Infrastructure & Protective Services Committee, suggesting the current limit on secondary suites on Small Lot Residential land be temporarily relaxed.
City Planning and Development Manager, Joe Johnson, says the purpose of the proposal, brought forward Tuesday, was more to initially ask the committee if the idea is something city council may have interest in potentially passing.
“So we didn’t actually get into the details of the proposed change but more so the effects of them,” he says. “Currently, homebuilders are seeing— obviously with the slow housing market— the one area that there does seem to be some demand for is for houses with secondary suites.”
Current regulations limit the number of secondary suites that are allowed in any given neighbourhood to no more than three secondary suites occupying the same 50m area in a neighbourhood. The proposed amendment would see the maximum increased to five. Johnson says prior to adopting an updated regulation, there should be a clear understanding of what the outcome will look like.
“Currently, we haven’t done enough analysis of their proposal to determine if that would create a very large opportunity for more secondary suites or would the impact be rather small.”
“When we’re adopting regulations like this, we are focussing on the long-term buildout of these neighbourhoods. We are very sympathetic to builders who want to stay active and employ people but at the same time, we also need to balance that with the ultimate product which is the neighbourhood which the city will have forever.”
He adds the amendment would also require extensive stakeholder consultation before moving forward.
“At this level of discussion when we use the term ‘stakeholders’ we’re talking about builders and developers but ultimately every citizen of Grande Prairie as a taxpayer and a resident is also a stakeholder and they have a voice as well.”
“When we rewrote the regulations in 2016, we had [an] extensive public consultation. If we are changing the regulations it would only make sense if we went out and did another round of public consultation.”
Potential concerns that may arise in higher population density neighbourhoods include lack of street parking, poor aesthetics, snow removal challenges, and a decline in landscaping or greenspaces.