Calgary Secondary Suite Solution or More Problems
Calgary Secondary Suite Solution or More Problems

The Secondary Suite issue in Calgary continues to be a political hot potato -but is there a solution on the horizon?

Despite all of the doom and gloom that seems to be shadowing the Calgary real estate market – the ongoing discussion on providing affordable and safe rental alternatives in the city still rages on seemingly under the radar now.

At the Real Estate Investment Network, we have been keeping a close eye on its progress, while not so quietly being an advocate for safe rental suites across the city.  (as you can see in other posts on this blog page). As of today, it looks like a window of opportunity  is opening for those in the city who currently have suites that may not be licensed (or ‘not legal’ as some would call them).

We, of course, are not the only ones keeping a close eye on this important subject.  We recently received some helpful information from a veteran REIN Member and well respected Calgary Realtor, Brett Turner. In his note he clearly explains what those who have suites (and those wanting them) can do during this window.  All Calgary investors should pay close attention to this.  Here is his take:

Late last year the city commissioned a working group to explore ways to clean up the secondary suite mess.  In the past these committees have generally been a waste of everyone’s time but this latest one is actually going in the right direction… towards a solution.  But, because it is quite detailed (and you may not have time to read it all), here is the “Coles Notes” version:

  • They want to allow existing illegal suites an 18 month window to legalize
  • During this window owners of secondary suites will not have to apply for a development permit if they were built prior to 2007
  • During this window suites can be legalized according to Alberta fire code, not Alberta building code.  This is huge because it saves owners the HVAC headaches and wireless smoke detectors can be used rather than hard-wired ones
  • Owners who go for it and have their suites legalized will get a big sticker that says their suites are safe. This can then be marketed as a legal suite going forward
  • After the 18 month window expires it sounds like the city is going to get a lot tougher on suites that aren’t compliant.

Many who have suites currently will be candidates for this new program, which will be a relief for many homeowners as well as renters, if you have the correct zoning.

Have a Suite But Not Right Zoning?

For those who have suites, but not the proper zoning, there is good news for you as well.  If your property does not have the zoning for a secondary suite right now there is a further amendment to the bylaw being discussed that would see four wards allow secondary suite development for all land use designations (even R1).  Want to know if you property could qualify for this exemption click on the link below and see if you fall within the boundary shown on the map they provide.

Potential exemption wards:

Sincerely,  Brett Turner

What’s Next?

We, at REIN, will continue to keep a close eye on this process and will be updating Members on how it is progressing, whether it is actually working and how best to make your suites legal and safe.

You can get involved by joining the discussion and sharing your experiences with your fellow investors on the discussion forums at


A Special thank you from the REIN Team to Brett Turner for his approach to this situation.


Calgary Secondary Suite Solution or More Problems was last modified: March 17th, 2015 by Don R. Campbell

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