Secondary suite program gets go-ahead

Burnaby Coun. Pietro Calendino -
Burnaby Coun. Pietro Calendino
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A program to allow secondary suites to be legalized in Burnaby will start in January but will not be enforced until Jan. 1, 2015.

That will allow time to educate the public and implement the program, said city council, which gave the go-ahead to the program Monday. Property owners wanting to legalize their suites will have to meet certain requirements, bring the units up to building code standards and pay for their fair share of city services.

The decision came after the results of a public consultation process found majority support for the program among survey respondents.

"I think a lot of people have been waiting a long time to see this," said Coun. Pietro Calendino, who noted one of the aims was to create more affordable housing.

Once implemented, the program will mean people won't be forced to be evicted because there was no provision to legalize suites, Calendino said. Currently, all it takes to shut down an illegal suite is a complaint from a neighbour.

Coun. Paul McDonell said the program will help address safety issues in some suites. During his days as a firefighter he often came upon suites "where the outcomes were not very good" because owners cut corners, creating fire traps and hazards.

Mayor Derek Corrigan noted Burnaby drew on the experience, both good and bad, of other cities in creating its program.

He noted that the additional charges for legalized suites will likely lead to higher rents and some housing will be lost through the city's enforcement efforts.

"It doesn't in the short term create more suites. In the longer term it will create higher-quality suites."

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