Garden Suites

The rules for developing a garden suite have recently changed!

On April 13th, 2017, following a public hearing, Victoria City Council voted to make it easier for homeowners to develop a garden suite by removing the rezoning requirement and delegating development permit approval to staff. The Garden Suite Policy and Guidelines have also been updated to include specific privacy considerations. Allowing Garden Suites in Zoning is a supporting action in the Victoria Housing Strategy 2016-2025 [PDF - 918 KB]. For more details on the strategy and its actions and progress towards making Victoria more affordable, please visit Victoria.ca/housing.

What is a Garden Suite?

A garden suite is a legal, detached, ground-oriented rental suite located in the backyard of a property with a single-family home as its primary use. Garden suites are designed to be long-term rental housing; they cannot be strata-titled or utilized as short-term rental (such as AirBnB). Garden Suites require a delegated development permit (a development permit approved by staff), and all necessary building permits.  

Creating a garden suite is another option for introducing a rental suite on your property where a secondary suite does not already exist. Property owners may convert an existing accessory building if it meets policy guidelines, or build something new.

Where are Garden Suites permitted?

Eligible locations for a garden suite in Victoria include all properties that contain only a single-family detached dwelling and are appropriately zoned (most single-family zones except for small lot zones permit garden suites). The proposal must meet all requirements of the Zoning Bylaw Schedule M – Garden Suites and should incorporate the design guidelines contained in the Garden Suite Policy and Guidelines. Properties that already have secondary suites, or an existing duplex, are not eligible.

I want to build a Garden Suite. What do I need to do?

  1. Check to see if your property is eligible for a garden suite
  2. Review the Garden Suites Policy and Guidelines [PDF - 495 KB]
  3. Contact Development Services to discuss your plans and the requirements for your application
  4. Apply for a Delegated Development Permit (Application forms). The application form lists all the documents required for your application. When you are ready, contact Development Services to book an appointment with staff to submit your      application
  5. Once approved, contact Permits and Inspections to obtain the necessary building permits
  6. When all permits are in hand, you are ready to build.