Delta looks to remove covenants regulating secondary suites

Delta council has given preliminary approval for an amendment to the city’s secondary suite regulations to remove the requirement for covenants.

That amendment will go to a public hearing Oct. 29.

If approved, it means owners of new homes won’t have to sign covenants that their dwellings won’t have suites, while those who have already signed covenants can apply to have them removed.

Homes still have to meet zoning requirements, including minimum lot width and parking availability, in order to have a suite, while council can still direct staff to require a covenant on an individual basis.

Community planning director Marcy Sangret said the covenants mirror language in Delta’s zoning bylaw the city can already enforce.

“In an effort to bring in a streamlining opportunity and to save the applicants some time and some costs, and administrative time for staff, we’re proposing that the requirements for the covenants be eliminated. However, the regulations around secondary suites are not proposed to be changed at this time,” she said.

Asked by Coun. Lois Jackson whether it means anyone with a basement will now automatically have the right to have a secondary suite, Sangret reiterated the proposed change simply removes a covenant from being registered automatically. A home can have one suite if it meets zoning and minimum lot requirements, as well as the owner obtaining a secondary suite occupancy permit.

“Not every single-family lot can have a suite,” said Sangret, adding, “no council approvals are required if you meet the conditions that are set out in the zoning today.”

City manager Sean McGill noted the proposal was discussed at the Mayor’s Task Force on Building Permits and Development, which is tasked with finding ways to remove barriers and streamline the process.

As far as covenants, he said the most important thing is that suites abide by the current zoning, so covenants are essentially just a duplication of process.

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