At Tuesday's council meeting, an update was presented to the city council on potential changes to Airdrie's Land Use Bylaw (LUB) regulations for accessory suites, incorporating information and feedback from other municipalities, stakeholders, and site tours.

City Council accepted the report, now city administration will draft recommended amendments for the Community Infrastructure and Strategic Growth Committee. The next step will be a public hearing at Council in the third quarter of this year where many questions councillors had on Tuesday will also be answered. 

Garden suites, garage suites, and secondary suites are the three categories recognized by the LUB. In response to the following, the Administration began a thorough assessment of the existing LUB laws in October 2023 according to city documents:

  1. A surge in accessory suite applications indicating growing demand.
  2. Feedback received from the former Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) on applications subject to variances, and/or appeal.
  3. The opportunity to apply for the Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan and meet the goals of the Affordable Housing Principled Action Plan.
AirdrieTable provided by the City of Airdrie.

According to the city, around 70 per cent of approved accessory suite applications between 2016 and May this year required a variance to a regulation.

Currently, Airdrie's Land Use Bylaw stipulates the regulations around accessory suites. Some of the regulations include:

  • Allowed Land Use
    • The land use district of your property lists a garden, garage and/or secondary suite as either a permitted or discretionary use.
  • Single, Detached Dwelling
    • The suite must be located within or on the same property as a single, detached dwelling. They are not allowed with a duplex, townhouse or other types of residential units.
  • No other conflicting uses
    • The property must not already contain a bed and breakfast, child care facility, supportive housing facility, another suite, or a home business that interacts with clients at the property.
  • Parking
    • There must be two parking spaces provided for the main dwelling/house, plus one space per bedroom (up to a maximum of two) for the accessory suite.
    • All parking must be located on the property. On-street parking is not counted as parking for an accessory suite application.
  • Size of property
    • In the case of garage and secondary suites, the property (not the house) must be at least 13.0m (42ft) wide and must be at least 400m² (approximately 4,300ft²) in area.
    • In the case of a garden suite, the property (not the house) must be at least 600m² (approx. 6,500ft²) in area.

When compared to other cities in Alberta, like Edmonton for example, Airdrie has a longer list of requirements. Edmonton being the least restrictive on the list of all other compared cities. Edmonton allows accessory suites for three different types of homes, single detached, semi-detached and townhouses. With no minimum lot area, no minimum lot width and no minimum parking. 

At the end of March, the City of Airdrie initiated a survey and met with stakeholders (the public, the development industry, and internal departments) to garner feedback from residents on the issue. City administration provided the findings from their public engagement, some of the key challenges that were pointed out included parking and impact on the community while some key opportunities include Supplemental income and affordable housing options.

Participants also offered several suggestions for regulations or requirements that could help integrate accessory suites into Airdrie neighbourhoods. According to the city, these include:

  • Parking regulations: Investigate permitted on-street parking or stricter parking regulations for residential areas, and ensure accessory suites include off-street parking solutions. 
  • Suite regulations: Make it easier to create legal suites with clear standards to ensure safety and quality. Consider occupancy limits. 
  • Designated areas: Consider allowing accessory suites only in areas where they can be better accommodated (parking), or in new areas, consider limiting the number of suites allowed in a neighbourhood. 
  • Infrastructure and amenities: Ensure adequate infrastructure and amenities such as greenspaces and pathways before allowing accessory suites. 
  • Community Involvement: Include consultation with neighbours in the process for suite approvals.
AirdrieThe graph shows the response of how Airdronians feel about accessory suites. Graph provided by the city of Airdrie.

The survey was held from March 22 to April 15, and 735 participants responded.

Also noted in the report, administration conducted an accessory suites site tour, visiting six areas within Airdrie with a clustering of approved accessory suites to review cumulative impacts.

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