West Vancouver Legalizes Secondary Suites

Suites must be licensed by September 30, 2010.

There may be up to 3,000 secondary suites in West Vancouver, according to the District. To help ensure community safety, the District has made all of them legal as of March 1, 2010 and subject to the District Zoning Bylaw. REALTORS® listing and advertising a property in West Vancouver which contain a secondary suite should familiarize themselves with the new guidelines and regulations, located in Zoning Bylaw 2200, Section 31-109.

What is a secondary suite?

West Vancouver defines a secondary suite as a separate residential unit accessory to a single family or two-family dwelling. The suite must have two or more rooms and include at least one living room, one kitchen and one bathroom.

A property with a secondary suite must meet the following requirements:

* Only one secondary suite is permitted per lot.
* The secondary suite cannot be detached from the principal building.
* The secondary suite must occupy a minimum floor area of 215 sq. ft and a maximum of 968 sq. ft. or 40 % of the total floor area of the building excluding garage space, whichever is less.
* The registered owner(s) of the property must occupy either the principal dwelling unit or the secondary suite.
* A building containing a secondary suite cannot have lodgers, a personal care facility, a child care use, or a bed and breakfast.
* A secondary suite must have a separate exterior entrance from the principal dwelling unit.
* The secondary suite must have an additional off-street parking spot exclusively for the use of the secondary suite and at least two off-street parking spaces for the exclusive use of the principal dwelling unit.
* The secondary suite parking must be located so that any vehicle parked in any required vehicle parking space on the lot may exit without needing to manoeuvre other vehicles and must be provided in addition to parking spaces required for visitor parking.
* The secondary suite must not be subdivided from the principal dwelling unit under the Land Title Act or the Strata Property Act.
* Water and electrical service for the secondary suite must not be separately metered.

By September 30, 2010 property owners must:

* Apply for a business licence and pay a fee of $250. As ofOctober 1, 2010 this fee increases to $400. (Note: March 1, West Vancouver stopped accepting applications for in-law suites.)
* Submit a general plan for the site including the existing floor plan of the unit showing the suite and the location of parking spaces.
* Have the suite inspected.
* Meet any requirements as a result of the inspection, including a follow-up inspection.
* Sign an affidavit that the home owner will occupy either the principal dwelling or the secondary suite.

In-law suites

Previously, in-law suites were legal for family members only. New applications for in-law suites are no longer accepted and only existing in-law suites with valid permits can continue as legal, non-conforming uses.


If a West Vancouver home owner does not comply, they could be found to be in violation of the Zoning Bylaw and could face fines of up to $300 a day.

Quarterly reports on secondary suites

West Vancouver staff now prepare a Secondary Suites Quarterly Report which includes:

* the number of new suites applied for and approved and their addresses;
* the number of existing suites legalized and approved and their addresses; and
* the number of files from various listing agencies advertising secondary suites for rent or existing in homes for sale in West Vancouver.

Read this for more information.

– from REBGV

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