Proposed Changes will Improve Secondary Suites

High River, AB: The Town of High River is considering a new, more streamlined approach to secondary suite applications in the R-1 Districts of High River in response to an increased interest in developing rental accommodations. These are neighbourhoods characterized by single detached homes.

“Developing a secondary suite, or rental unit, has grown in popularity in High River with the Town receiving more than 14 applications in the past year,” said Khalid Mohammed, manager of planning and development services. “This is more than double what we normally experience.”

Currently homeowners interested in developing a secondary suite in an R-1 District must apply to amend the Town’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB), which requires a Public Hearing in front of Council. The whole process can take about three months and costs $500.

The Town is proposing to add “secondary suite” as a discretionary land use in the R-1 Districts, which is the same as other residential districts and would eliminate the need to amend the Town’s LUB as part of the application process.

To ensure that secondary suites in these areas fit into the existing community character, the Town is also proposing additional regulations for minimum on-site parking and the exterior design of the suite, as well as a licensing requirement.

“Licensing secondary suites would provide an added enforcement tool to ensure landlords continue to operate their secondary suites in a safe manner and comply with all applicable regulations,” explained Mohammed.

Like other residential land use districts in High River, landowners would still be required to apply for a development permit ($150) and Town staff would still review each application within the context of the site and the surrounding neighbourhood before determining whether to issue the permit. They also have the discretion to add site specific conditions to a permit approval. As with any development permit, there is a 14 day period when anyone can appeal the decision.

The Town is holding a Public Open House on Sept. 18 from 4 to 8 pm in Council Chambers at the Joint Municipal Building (309 Macleod Tr. SW) where residents can participate in a discussion on this proposal. A survey will also be available at the session and online. Survey results will be taken into consideration for the report that administration will present to Council.