What’s happening with our Garden Suite Program

July 22, 2022

What’s happening with our Garden Suite Program

The Garden Suite Program has had a successful first year and a half since launching, and it’s encouraging to see the continued positive response to the program. To date, 120 applications in total have been received. 50 garden suite applications have received approval at this time, and the remainder are at various stages of review and approval.

As part of receiving the first annual review of the Garden Suite Program, several areas of improvement have been brought forward for consideration.

Proposed changes

Below is a summary of the areas identified for improvement. These changes will reduce the number of variances required to reduce processing times.  

  • Consideration of garden suites in side yards and front yards (in addition to rear yards, as currently permitted);
  • Expansion of the geographic areas for garden suites to include RS-zoned properties within the Urban Containment Boundary that are not within the Sewer Service Area;
  • Addition of a map in the zoning bylaw to show areas where garden suites are permitted to clarify the exclusion of the Broadmead covenant area;
  • Adding additional managers to delegated authority for garden suite Development Permits for staff coverage; and
  • Minor amendments to the regulatory framework to improve clarity and enhance process efficiency.

These proposed changes are in various stages of implementation as staff fine-tune the Garden Suite Program to ensure it continues to perform well.

Garden Suites are not permitted in front and side yards currently

As part of the one-year review of the Garden Suite Program, staff brought forward a Report to Council that provided an overview of the program and recommended changes to the regulations to reduce the number of variances that require Council approval. The goal is to reduce processing times. The full report went to Council on May 9, and a copy can be found here

One of the recommended amendments is to amend the Zoning Bylaw to allow Garden suites in front and side yards, as well as rear yards, and reduce the number of applications requiring Council approval. Council directed staff to do this work and the necessary Bylaw amendments are currently being prepared. It is important to note that they have not yet been presented to Council or adopted.

Bylaw amendments will be brought forward to Council in Fall 2022. Should Council support the amendments, garden suites would be permitted in front and side yards at that time.

Further information regarding Garden Suite requirements can be found here.

Homeowners cannot install on-site stormwater management currently

In addition, Council provided direction to staff at the meeting on July 11 to “develop servicing requirements and performance criteria that allow on-site stormwater disposal where no existing piped drain service is available for any constructed or renovated structure on an RS zoned lot that is not the subject of a conditionally approved subdivision or a rezoning application.”

Any changes related to on-site storm water management would apply to the approximately 2,000 RS-zoned properties in the District of Saanich that don’t currently have direct access to the municipal storm drain.

This requires an amendment to Schedule H of the Subdivision Bylaw, which staff do not expect to be in front of Council until early 2023.

Please note that at the moment, homeowners cannot install on-site stormwater management without requesting a variance. 

Thank you, Saanich, for your tremendous interest in the Garden Suite Program, and we look forward to sharing more updates as proposed changes are formally adopted.

Learn more

To learn more about the Garden Suite Program and the application process, visit saanich.ca/gardensuites.


If you have questions regarding Garden Suites, please get in touch with us at gardensuites@saanich.ca.