Secondary Suites - Important information regarding changes to current R-C1 zoning

Do you own an R-C1 property (single detached home) in Hounsfield Heights-Briar Hill?  If so, then your property will be affected by proposed land use changes set to come before City Council at a public hearing on March 12, 2018.  The City of Calgary will send a letter to every home in Calgary that is affected by the changes, but you will have little time to respond. There will be no public information sessions or engagements: the only way for you to provide your input is through a letter.

Currently, secondary suites are not a permitted use in R-C1 homes. Homeowners wishing to build a secondary suite must apply for a Change of Land Use (rezoning) from R-C1 to R-C1s. If the proposed Motion passes on March 12th, secondary suites would no longer require a rezoning application; they would only require a Discretionary Development Permit (DP).

What is a Discretionary Development Permit (DP)?

All DPs are either Permitted or Discretionary.  A Discretionary DP:

Is processed through the City of Calgary Planning Department rather than requiring a Council hearing,
requires that a notice is posted for two weeks on the property with information about what is planned, who to contact for more details and deadlines for Community Association and neighbours’ comments

may be appealed (i.e. at the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board)

What is the Motion being voted on March 12th?

The Motion has three key components:

Secondary suites would move to a discretionary use in R-1, R-C1 and R-1L districts;
A mandatory Secondary Suite Registry;
Reinstatement of fees for secondary suite applications.

It is important to note that while this is being presented as a complete package, Council will vote on each piece separately:  they can choose to adopt all or parts or none of the pieces.

What does the current Motion mean?

If passed, all R-C1 properties will allow for suites with only a discretionary Development Permit.

What do you think could help to mitigate some of the commonly-expressed concerns around secondary suites?  The following items are not part of the Motion, but may be worth considering.  If you think any of these are important or have other suggestions, you need to let your Councillor and Community Association know.

Garage and laneway houses will be allowed as part of this Motion under the current proposal.  Should this change be limited to basement suites which are fully contained within a house?  A garage or laneway house could be much more intrusive for close neighbors.
Is a mandatory registration crucial (i.e.  All suites must be registered, otherwise they are considered illegal)?
What about renewable licensing (similar to a home-based business since a suite is generally income generating):  should a license be required when the property is sold or redeveloped?  Should a suite inspection occur at that time to ensure suite safety so that no tenant resides in a suite that does not meet building codes?  
Should there be penalties for non-registered or non-licenced suites?
Should fees for secondary suite applications and development permits be reinstated? (Since August 2015, fees have been waived.)
Is it important that all suites have adequate parking?
Should there be a provision so that suites cannot be used as short-term rentals (i.e. Airbnb)?
Should there be increased city bylaw enforcement resources to ensure all suites meet property standards for maintenance and upkeep? Should there be penalties for not meeting bylaws in regards to aspects such as maintenance and upkeep standards?

What can you do?

Submit feedback or concerns to your Councillor, your Community Association and to all Councillors (since all will be voting on this Motion).  Unless they hear from you, they will not know what you think about this proposed Secondary Suite change.

You can call 403-268-5311 or visit for more information.

Letters concerning these bylaw amendments must be received by the City Clerk no later than 12:00 p.m. (noon), March 5, 2018, in order to be included in the Agenda of Council.

Any person who wishes to address Council in person on this matter on March 12, 2018 may do so for a maximum of five minutes.  On the Hearing date, anyone present can speak:  you do not have to apply ahead of time.

If you have any feedback on this or any issue affecting the HH-BH community, or would like to become more actively involved in planning and development issues related to HH-BH, please send an email with your contact information to Jeff Marsh, our director of strategic planning, at


Hounsfield Heights-Briar Hill Community Association:  

Councillor Druh Farrell:

All Councillors:  if you send out a mail to, it will be forwarded to all councillors

Mayor Nenshi:

Public Submissions for the Council Hearing: