Garden Suite Study

Thank you to everyone who attended the open houses and/or completed a survey about the proposed regulations for garden suites. The survey is now closed.

We will now review the input received and prepare the proposed regulations for Council this summer.

Highlights of Proposed Regulations

The proposed regulations are based on community input and include requirements for the location, size and height of garden suites, as well as aspects of building design such as roof form, windows, lighting and landscaping.

Details of the proposed regulations for garden suites are included in the Virtual Open House display boards.

Highlights of the proposed regulations include:

  • Garden suites would be permitted on all RS zoned lots inside the Sewer Service Area, subject to regulatory requirements
  • Garden suites would be permitted as an alternative to secondary suites (not both on the same property)
  • Garden suites would be permitted in the rear yard, with the potential for variances to consider other locations on the lot
  • Garden suites would be regulated based on three lot size categories:
    • Small lots (400 – 559 m2)
    • Medium Lots (560 – 999 m2)
    • Large Lots (1000 m2 +)
  • The maximum garden suite size permitted would be 46.5 m2 (500 ft2) on a small lot, 65 m2 (700 ft2) on a medium lot and 93 m2 (1000 ft2) on a large lot
  • The size of garden suites and other structures would also be limited by maximum lot coverage and setback regulations
  • Garden suite height limits would allow one-storey buildings on small and medium lots and two-storey buildings on large lots
  • Owner occupation in the primary dwelling or garden suite would be required
  • Design guidelines would guide building and site design

Revised accessory building regulations are also being proposed that align with the proposed regulations for garden suites. The proposed regulations for accessory buildings seek to limit their size and prohibit their use as dwellings.

Stay informed!

Register to our notification list for updates. You will receive updates by email when there are opportunities for public input or when this subject will be considered by Council.

Project timeline

Phase 4, in which the proposed regulations were released for public review, is complete.

In Phase 3 we continued the exploration of ideas and issues for potential regulations for garden suites that was started in Phase 2. We received 711 responses to Community Survey #2 and we talked to over 150 people at information displays set up at three music-in-the-park events in July.

Phase 2 marked the beginning of our engagement with the public and stakeholders to learn more about their interests and concerns, and to test different ideas for potential regulations for garden suites. We hosted two open houses and six pop-up and information displays. We also launched two surveys and received a total of 1,964 survey responses.

We initiated the project in Phase 1. Staff worked behind the scenes to complete background research to inform discussions about garden suites in Saanich.

Next Steps

The proposed regulatory framework will be presented for Council’s review this fall. Should Council support the proposed framework, staff could then be directed to prepare the necessary bylaw amendments and supporting documents for implementation.

It is anticipated that Saanich will start receiving applications for garden suites in 2020.


A garden suites is a detached house that is in the rear yard of a single family lot. It is accessory to the primary dwelling. Garden suites are also known as backyard cottages, laneway houses, carriage houses, coach houses, accessory dwelling units, secondary dwelling units, and detached accessory dwelling units. 

Garden suites are currently not permitted in Saanich. However, there has been growing community interest in having a garden suite to help offset a mortgage with rental income, house a family member, or provide an accessible living situation.

On September 11, 2017, Council adopted a Terms of Reference for a study to explore potential regulatory changes to permit garden suites. The study will take approximately 12 months to complete and will involve lots of opportunities for public input. 

Documents and reports

Open houses (May 2019)

Council Report

Public Engagement

Open houses (March 2018)

Other documents