It is now legal to construct a garden suite with a permit in Saanich. They are now permitted on most single family residential (RS-zoned) properties inside the Sewer Service Area. Properties in the Broadmead area have pre-existing covenants on title that do not permit garden suites.
Garden suites are detached, ground-oriented dwellings located in the rear yard of a property with a single family house as its principal use. A garden suite can only contain one dwelling unit.
This new housing form will contribute to the amount and diversity of rental housing available in Saanich. Garden suites can be used for family or as rental units, but cannot be strata-titled, sold or used for short-term rentals (e.g. for an Airbnb or Bed and Breakfast). An owner must live on the property with the garden suite in either the single family dwelling or the garden suite.
Basic Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for a garden suite, a residential lot must meet the following basic eligibility criteria:
- The lot must be in an RS zone
- The lot must be in the Garden Suite Area (Sewer Service Area) [PDF - 1 MB]
- The lot must be a minimum size of 400 m2
- The lot must be a minimum width of 12 m
- The principal building on the lot must be a single family dwelling
- There cannot be a secondary suite on the property
In addition to these basic requirements, there may be other considerations that could affect the eligibility of your lot for a garden suite such as the lot coverage or a statutory right-of-way.
It is recommended that you review the pre-application questions [PDF - 1 MB] in Guide A and discuss your project with a planner prior to making an application.
For information about your property (e.g. location, zoning, lot size and width) visit SaanichMap.
It is recommended that you spend some time investigating the pre-application questions [PDF - 1 MB]. The information gathered will help you identify potential issues and prepare your submission.
A Development Permit (with Variance) allows for variances to zoning requirements (see Schedule H of the Zoning Bylaw [PDF - 13 MB]). If your application does not meet the zoning requirements, you may apply to Council for a variance. Variance applications may not vary the density or use of land. Council is the decision-making authority.
Converting an existing accessory building into a garden suite
It may be possible to convert an existing accessory building into a garden suite. The process, however, is different from the construction of a new garden suite and may require that you spend more time and money to complete the necessary applications.
To determine whether conversion of an existing accessory building is an option, you will need to:
- Determine if your existing accessory building complies with the zoning and design regulations, and what alterations or variances may be required.
- Discuss your plans with Building Inspections and work with a home building professional to determine how your accessory building must be modified to meet the BC Building Code for residential use.
Application form and submission documents
- Development Permit Application for Garden Suites
- Template - Neighbour notification letter [PDF - 95 KB]
- Template - Project data table: [DOCX - 117 KB] or [PDF - 194 KB]
- Template – Project design summary [PDF - 77 KB]
- Guide A: Application Process [PDF - 6 MB]
- Guide B: Regulations [PDF - 2 MB]
- Guide C: Design Guidelines [PDF - 37 MB]
- Guide to Adaptable and Accessible Designs [PDF - 625 KB]
- Zoning Bylaw, 2003 (including Schedule H) [PDF - 13 MB]
- Appendix ‘N’ - Official Community Plan Bylaw – Garden Suite Design Guidelines [PDF - 36 MB]
- Building Code Assessment – Converting an Accessory Building to a Garden Suite [PDF - 241 KB]
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are Garden Suites now legal in Saanich?
It is now legal to construct a garden suite with a permit in Saanich. They are permitted on most RS-zoned properties inside the Sewer Service Area.
What permits do I need to build a garden suite?
You will need a Development Permit and a Building Permit. You may also need a Tree Permit, if trees will be impacted by your development.
How long will the permit process take?
If you submit a complete application it will take approximately 1.5 to 3.5 months to receive a Development Permit. A Building Permit will take approximately six weeks to obtain.
Can I have a garden suite and a secondary suite?
No. You have the option of either a secondary suite or a garden suite on your property, but not both.
Can I subdivide a garden suite from my lot?
No. A key objective of the garden suite program is to provide permanent rental housing on existing RS-zoned lots. Subdivision of a garden suite from a lot with a single family dwelling is not permitted.
Am I allowed to rent my garden suite as a short-term rental?
Short-term rentals such as AirBnb, and Bed and Breakfasts are not permitted in garden suites. Garden Suites are for long-term rental only.
My property does not fit the standard layout. Am I allowed to site a garden suite in the front yard?
Garden suites are permitted in the rear yard. If your application does not meet the zoning requirement for siting, you can apply for a Development Permit with Variance. Council would be the decision-making authority.