Suites & Cottages

The Issue

The Eco-Alliance supports allowing suites as one way to encourage a broad range of housing types and price levels for the changing needs of families and individuals.


Bylaw #194, approved in 2008, allowed suites on properties across the island. Our organization advocates the following policies that could be included in a new OCP to improve that bylaw.

If the updated OCP follows the Eco-Alliance’s recommendation to redirect into designated village or “hamlet” areas all future potential housing that is anticipated in the OCP but not allocated as a zoning entitlement, then the future number of secondary suites in rural parts of the Island would be reduced in comparison with that envisioned by the current OCP. (See Growth Management, and Affordable Housing).


  • Operation of a suite should lead to higher property taxes to the municipality from the suite owner so that the social costs of community services such as road maintenance etc., caused by the additional suite residents, are not subsidized by homes that do not have suites. Langley follows this example; bylaw #194 does not.
  • The municipality should establish a limit on house size, which could be exceeded if the house contains a price-restricted rental suite. This would support our recommended Affordable Housing Strategy. Whistler uses this method to ensure that rental suites remain affordable. Bylaw #194 does not.
  • In areas of the island that experience drinking water shortages, comment and approval of the relevant water district or utility should be required before a suite is registered in that area. Bowen’s Advisory Planning Commission recommended such a policy; bylaw #194 has no such provision.
  • To not require owner-occupancy in either the main house or the suite results in rental “duplexes”. This creates an incentive for speculative development and absentee landlords. Langley and many other municipalities require owner-occupancy; bylaw #194 does not.