Following the long-awaited council decision to allow secondary suites in most Calgary neighbourhoods, city officials are turning to the difficult task of encouraging thousands of owners to bring their illegal suites up to code.

There could be 16,000 or more illegal basement and backyard suites in Calgary, according to city estimates.

City inspectors will reach out to thousands of owners over the next two years in a bid to encourage them to convert their illegal suites and register them on a mandatory listing of inspected suites.

“This is critical,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday. “Now our job needs to be to help illegal suites come into compliance. There is now a two-year amnesty in order to make that work as well as encouraging the creation of new legal safe suites that will help crowd out some of the worst offenders of the illegal suites.”

Councillors agreed Monday to streamline the city’s secondary suite application process by making them a discretionary use across the city after years of debate and discord.

The change will allow homeowners to apply for a development permit at a city counter rather than apply for a land use amendment through council.

A two-year amnesty period will give existing secondary suite owners until June 1, 2020 to upgrade their suites before they could be subject to fines or penalties for advertising non-compliant suites. The city is also waiving fees associated with the development permits and mandatory suite registry for two years.

City officials said it’s hoped at least 800 legal suites will be added to the registry each year during that time.

“It’s costly, there’s a very high bar to entry for a legal suite. That’s why people don’t do it,” said Cliff De Jong with the city’s building services unit. “We’re trying to be realistic about just how many people (come forward) …read more

Source:: Calgary Herald


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