Why is it important to register your secondary suite?

  • In the event of fire or other emergency, it's important that emergency service professionals are aware that a home has a secondary suite where people may need help. 
  • Ensuring that secondary suites meet BC Building Codes protects the safety of Colwood residents, minimizes public health risks and protects the property owner's investment. 
  • Registration of secondary suites helps the City plan for population growth and maintain quality of life for all Colwood citizens.

For more details, read the Secondary Suite Fact Sheet as well as important new regulatory information in  Bylaw 1145 and Bylaw 1164.

Complete this Application for Secondary Suite.

Important Updates to secondary suite permitting in Colwood

The City of Colwood is in the process of repealing and rewriting its secondary suite permitting requirements. Property owners who currently own secondary suites will retain their right to operate them despite the changes.

Mayor Hamilton notes that with the current lack of rental housing in the capital region, secondary suites are an important part of the housing equation. “Suites make home ownership more affordable and provide options for renters,” said Hamilton. “We want to make the secondary suite process easy for people while fine-tuning regulations to ensure suites are built safely to code, and that they don’t expose the city or its taxpayers to undue liability.”

No more annual fees for secondary suites

In January 2017, the City decided to waive annual renewal fees for secondary suite owners. This change included plans for a full review of the secondary suite permitting requirements enacted in 2009, which require updates to clarify the safety status of suites that predate the bylaw. 

Focusing on safety

The majority of suites in Colwood are ‘Class 1’ suites that were inspected and permitted when they were being built, to ensure they adhered to safety regulations in the BC Building Code.

Other suites in Colwood were put in place prior to the 2009 secondary suite bylaw. In the absence of a bylaw, these ‘Class 2’ suites were not subject to the same permits or inspections when they were constructed. Issuing permits for these suites without regular inspections may give the false impression that the City has confirmed there are no life-safety issues with a particular suite.

With the repealing of the Secondary Suite bylaw, property owners retain their ability to operate a secondary suite as a permitted use in the Land Use Bylaw. That Bylaw also covers other regulations, such as the requirement that the owner live on site and that parking requirements are adhered to.

‘Class 2’ suites that have historically been granted a permit each year can also continue to operate despite the repealing of the bylaw, unless the City becomes aware of a life-safety concern that warrants enforcement action.

Bringing the Secondary Suite Bylaw up to date is a priority for the City. The process is expected to take several months. The City will be contacting all secondary suite owners to explain the changes in detail and provide a point of contact for anyone who may have questions and concerns.

If you require further information regarding a Secondary Suite, please call 250-478-5999 or email planning@colwood.ca.