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Charlottetown passes bylaw to create registry for all secondary and garden suites

Charlottetown council has passed a bylaw to create a registry for all secondary and garden suites, such as basement apartments.
Charlottetown council has passed a bylaw to create a registry for all secondary and garden suites, such as basement apartments. - 123RF Stock Photo
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Charlottetown city council took another step toward implementing rules that might help people find a place to live.

Council passed a bylaw at its monthly meeting Monday to create a registry for all secondary and garden suites.

These suites have commonly been referred to as accessory apartments, units that exist in a home, such as a basement apartment.

Short-term rentals are not permitted in these accessory apartments, as council tries to do its best to reduce the number of Airbnbs.

The registry itself is something that was a very key component to the secondary suite bylaw that we wanted to put in place,’’ said Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the planning committee.

“What we want to do is we want to have people register with the city. We want to keep track of who has secondary suites, and that registry will be made public when people are looking for homes, such as an apartment.”

“This was just a way for us to be able to create some invisible density. It was also a way for us to fix or at least try to fix the affordable housing issue.’’
-Coun. Greg Rivard

To date, there been have five applications for secondary suites.

During a recent meeting of the planning board, Alex Forbes, manager of planning, noted that when an issue is raised or where there is a fire and the property is found to be a non-conforming dwelling, the owner and the insurance company will be on the hook.

The applicants apply for permits and pay a fee to ensure that what they build is within building code requirements and has been fully inspected before occupancy.

Back in the fall, council adopted amendments to the zoning and development bylaw that would permit secondary suites in single-detached dwellings. As part of those amendments, council directed staff to develop and implement a secondary suite registry that would become a public database of legally approved secondary suites in the city.

New suites that go through the permit process are expected to be added to the registry systematically as those permits are approved.

A transition or grace period of two years will be provided to allow property owners with illegal suites to make an application to legalize and register undocumented suites without repercussions.

As an added incentive for owners to register existing in-law suites or undocumented suites, the department will waive certain registration fees up to Jan. 1, 2021.

“It is to help with some of the housing issues that we are having in Charlottetown,’’ Rivard said. “This was just a way for us to be able to create some invisible density. It was also a way for us to fix or at least try to fix the affordable housing issue.’’

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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