Secondary Suites

Secondary suites are a valuable source of affordable housing in our community.  It is important to ensure that community members are fully informed about the regulations and uses of secondary suites.

It is recognized that the City of Fort St. John has significant challenges with regard to the creation, management and administration of secondary suites.  The key to creating a stock of good quality legal secondary suites is the full cooperation and understanding of key groups of stakeholders in our community.  

The Secondary Suite Zoning Map [PDF - 1 MB] illustrates property areas that are zoned to allow secondary suites. Please note: a suite is not permitted within a duplex, on a parcel containing a duplex, or within an accessory building on the same parcel as a duplex. Suites and carriage houses are permitted in single-family dwellings within an R2 zone.

A legal suite in Fort St. John meets the following criteria:

  • The suite is located in a single detached dwelling or within an accessory building on the same parcel as a single detached dwelling that is appropriately zoned (suites are not legal in duplexes).
  • There is only one suite on the property and there are no tenants or a bed and breakfast being operated.
  • The maximum floor area of the suite must not exceed the lesser of 90sq m (approx. 30 feet by 30 feet) or 40% of the gross floor area of the principal building.
  • The suite meets BC Building Code requirements for secondary suites.
  • The owner of the suite holds a valid business license issued by the City.
  • One parking space is provided on the parcel for the tenant(s).
  • The owner of the property occupies the residence.

Enforcement of Illegal Suites:

The concern of illegal secondary suites and its related impacts was raised to Council in 2015.  Factors such as the number of new developments with duplexes, an uptake of these units for rent, and a strong economic climate in the City contributed to how these duplexes were used and resulted in negative impacts to the neighbourhoods that they are located in.  In addition to suites being illegally built, other concerns include traffic, safety and unsightly properties and streets in those areas. 

This set into motion a series of steps such as a plan to educate and inform the community on secondary suites and staff recording complaints to initiate an enforcement approach.  The intent of this enforcement approach is to reduce and resolve health and safety issues resulting from illegal suites and convey it formally through legal notices on the property title. A list of current properties with illegal suites can be found here