Secondary Suites

Secondary suites provide an option for 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 a good-quality legal secondary suite is the full cooperation and understanding of key groups of stakeholders in our community.

A secondary suite is permitted within specific zones and must comply with the BC Building Code. Please contact the Planning and Engineering Department for more information.

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

  • No more than one secondary or detached suite is permitted on a parcel with a principal single-detached dwelling;
  • A secondary suite is not permitted within a semi-attached dwelling, on a parcel containing a semi-attached dwelling, or within an accessory building on the same parcel as a semi-attached dwelling;
  • The maximum floor area of a secondary suite must not exceed the lesser of 90.0 m² occupying not more than 40% of the habitable floor area of the principal building;
  • The secondary suite must meet BC Building Code requirements for secondary suites;
  • The owner of the secondary suite is required to hold a valid business licence with the City;
  • One off-street parking space must be provided on the parcel for the secondary suite;
  • Secondary suites shall not be subdivided or strata-titled; and
  • The principal single-detached dwelling on the parcel containing the secondary suite must be occupied by the owner of the principal single-detached dwelling.

Enforcement of Illegal Suites:

The concern of illegal secondary suites and it's related impacts were raised to Council in 2015. Factors such as the number of new developments with semi-attached dwellings, uptake of these units for rent, and a strong economic climate have contributed to the increase of illegal suites were used and resulted in negative impacts to the neighborhoods that they are located in. In addition to secondary 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 by the City 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 secondary suites and convey it formally through legal notices on the property title. A list of current properties with illegal suites can be found here