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New program aims to increase number of secondary suites in Delta

City waving fees as ‘ambassadors’ help homeowners navigate application process
Delta has launched its new “Home Suite Home” program aimed at increasing the number of legal secondary suites in the city. (Nina Grossman/Black Press Media photo)

The city has launched a new program to add more secondary suites to Delta’s housing stock.

The new “Home Suite Home” program is designed to encourage homeowners to add a secondary suite to their existing homes, and to spur those who already have secondary suites to bring their properties into compliance with the BC Building Code.

The program is a pre-application service, wherein homeowners can have newly-created “secondary suite ambassadors” attend their secondary suites before the building permit process begins. A city press release Thursday (April 18) notes ambassadors are expected to be contacting more than 1,500 homeowners through the program over the next eight months.

The staff report to council notes there are approximately 3,700 secondary suites in Delta that have an occupancy permit, of which 2,700 have rental permits.

Home Suite Home was approved by council April 8, along with a host of bylaw changes aimed at removing additional barriers for owners leasing or renting a secondary suite.

Those changes include authorizing the city’s general manager of development to issue and revoke secondary suite occupancy permits as well as approve the decommissioning of a secondary suite, removing licensing requirements and fees for secondary suites, and removing the fine for owners found leasing or renting a secondary suite without a valid rental permit.

The latter move is specifically aimed at bringing existing “illegal” suites into compliance through the Home Suite Home program. Doing so will not only ensure the units are safe to occupy, but also that they are counted as part of Delta’s total housing stock, giving the city a boost as it strives to meet the provincial mandate of adding 3,607 net new housing units over the next five years.

Under provincial legislation passed last year, cities must update their zoning bylaws to allow so-called small-scale multi-unit housing on lots currently zoned for single-family or duplexes by June 30. The legislation also legalizes secondary suites and lane-way homes across the province.

READ MORE: New housing legislation promises to create 130,000 homes in B.C. in 10 years

For a limited time, in addition to removing the requirement for a secondary suite rental permit, the city is also waiving the pre-application service fee and building permit application fees, saving homeowners wanting to add a suite approximately $400.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work that Delta is doing to address housing affordability in our city and Home Suite Home is an important part of that endeavour,” Mayor George Harvie said in a press release.

“This initiative offers a creative approach to utilizing existing housing, providing more options for those who need it. I encourage Delta residents to take this opportunity to make safer, quality housing available to our community.”

All secondary suites must comply with rules set out in both Delta’s Zoning Bylaw and the BC Building Code, including that secondary suites cannot be strata-titled or sold, and are limited to one per single-detached house or one per side in the lower part of a duplex.

More details are available at

A staff report to council notes doing away with the $50 annual rental permit fee and the $500 penalty for renting out a secondary suite without a permit will result in a loss of about $140,000 in revenue per year, which the city would make up for through other efficiencies.

— with files from Wolf Depner

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James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
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