Secondary Suites Guide

Are you interested in a secondary suite on your property?  Here’s some useful information to help get you started!

Secondary suites help provide long-term rental housing in many communities.

Since 2008, attached secondary suites have been permitted on Bowen Island. In July 2017, Council amended the Land Use Bylaw to allow residents to construct detached secondary suites.

General Regulations

The Land Use Bylaw allows for “Accessory Residential Use” on many residential properties on Bowen.

A residential property is permitted to have a secondary suite provided that:

  • Not more than 1 secondary suite is built on the property;
  • A parking space is provided for the suite, in addition to any space(s) required for the dwelling;
  • No bed and breakfast or commercial guest accommodation is permitted on the property.

An attached secondary suite can be a maximum size of 90 sqm (~970 sqft), and not more than 40% of the total habitable floor area.

A detached suite is permitted if the property is at least 0.36 hectares in size (0.9 acres). A detached suite can be up to 115 sqm (~1237 sqft), depending on the size of property. A Development Permit is required for a detached suite if it is within 10 metres of a lot line, or over 5 metres tall and within 30 metres of a lot line.

Frequently asked questions

How much can I build on my property?

Maximum lot coverage and height are governed according to the zone your property is in, and on the size of your property. Regulations can be found in the Land Use Bylaw. Any suite must fit within existing density regulations.

What is included in Floor Area?

The Land Use Bylaw defines Floor Area as all areas of a building or structure having a floor and ceiling more than 2 metres apart, and where more than 60% of the area between the roof and the floor is enclosed by walls and windows.

What permits are necessary, and how much do they cost?

A Development Permit is required for a detached secondary suite if it is within 10 metres of a lot line, or over 5 metres tall and within 30 metres of a lot line.

Building within the Watershed, Aquifer, and Stream Protection Development Permit Area will require a Development Permit to ensure no negative impact on watersheds and riparian areas. A Development Permit application is $175.

A Building Permit is required to build an attached or a detached secondary suite. A Building Permit application is $75, and final cost depends on the value of the construction.

What is necessary for a Detached Secondary Suite Development Permit Application?

A Development Permit for detached secondary suites considers the location and character of the proposed suite, with a focus on ensuring that the suite does not intrude on the views or privacy of neighbouring properties. Applicants are advised to discuss their detached suite proposals with adjacent neighbours to identify potential concerns, and to prepare a summary of neighbours’ comments for submission with your application.

Can I have a second driveway to access my detached secondary suite?

No. Bowen Island’s Traffic & Use of Streets Bylaw allows for properties to be serviced by a single driveway. In exceptional circumstances you may apply to the Public Works Superintendent for permission for a second driveway.

What are the septic requirements?

As part of any Building Permit application that increases the liveable floor area on a lot, you must submit certification from a septic professional that the existing septic system can handle the additional load, or that recommends septic system upgrades.

What are the water requirements?

If you are on a private water system, such as an individual well, you may need to demonstrate that there is adequate water supply to provide water to both the main house and a suite.

What about existing Covenants?

As a part of a Building Permit application, you must provide all covenants registered on title. Some properties on Bowen Island contain restrictive covenants on title that prohibit the building of a secondary suites. Any changes to these covenants can only be made by Council. Speak to the Planning Department if this restriction applies to your property.

Can I convert an existing accessory building into a detached suite?

You will be eligible to convert an existing building into a suite if your property meets the requirements for a detached secondary suite. If the building was built with a Building Permit, you are exempt from requiring a Development Permit. Simply apply for a Building Permit for the conversion work.

Can I build a “Tiny House” as a detached suite?

On Bowen Island, there is no minimum size requirement for a detached suite; however, the suite must meet BC Building Code requirements, be on a permanent foundation, and be served by water and sewer.

Can I subdivide my secondary suite?

A secondary suite may not be stratified, subdivided, or otherwise legally separated from the primary dwelling. The only exception is a detached suite on a lot large enough to meet the minimum lot area requirements for subdivision.

How will a detached secondary suite affect my property taxes?

Adding a suite may increase the assessed value of your property, as would any addition or renovation to your home. This increased value may be reflected in increased property taxes.

Does a detached secondary suite need to be registered with the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO)?

Yes. Under Provincial Regulations, new dwellings, including detached secondary suites, are required to be registered with the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO). The HPO oversees warranties on new homes in BC. Conversion of existing buildings into a detached suite may also require registration with HPO. For more information, contact:

Homeowner Protection Office BC
1-800-407-7757

Need more information?

If you have any questions about secondary suites, please contact the Planning Department.

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