Secondary Suite Zoning Requirements

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Since 2012, secondary suites have been permitted in all but a few single detached residential zones, as long as they meet certain conditions. We regularly review these conditions to make sure they are working for the community.

There are three secondary suite requirements currently under review:

1. Removing the secondary suite requirement that all required parking spaces be free and clear of each other.

Homes with secondary suites must have two parking spaces for the occupants of the home and one parking space for the secondary suite tenant. Currently, all three parking spaces must have their own designated spot and tandem parking (a car parked right in front of another) is not allowed. All required parking must be on-site (street parking does not count), so a property with a suite needs to fit three parking spaces either side-by-side or far enough apart so that the parking spaces are easily accessible.

This requirement has resulted in wider driveways, complicated parking configurations (see image gallery on the right) and has made it difficult to meet other zoning regulations about permeability and front yard landscaping. In some cases, this requirement prevents owners from being able to have a legal secondary suite.

Should the City remove this current parking requirement, more properties would be eligible for secondary suites, more owners would be able to meet their landscaping requirements, and less yard area would be devoted to parking. Owners and tenants would need to agree among themselves on how to access their parking spaces without inconveniencing others. It is possible that street parking spaces would be used more often.

2. Removing the minimum lot width of 15 m (49 ft) to be eligible for a secondary suite.

Delta requires a minimum lot width of 15 m (49 ft) in order to be eligible for a secondary suite. Most newly subdivided lots and some irregularly shaped lots have lot widths narrower than that and are not able to have a secondary suite.

Over the years, suite parking requirements have changed and the rationale behind the specific
15 m (49 ft) minimum lot width is no longer relevant. As such, the 15 m (49 ft) minimum lot width requirement is being considered for removal.

If this requirement was removed, the City would allow suites on any properly zoned lot that could fit three required parking spaces on the property.

3. Discharging restrictive covenants that prohibit secondary suites on a property (should the zoning regulations change).

Many previously developed properties have a restrictive covenant registered on title that prohibits secondary suites. This type of restrictive covenant typically includes restrictions that mirror secondary suite zoning regulations and does not add any additional restrictions; however, it increases administrative work for City staff and adds cost and delay to applicants.

If Delta were to change the zoning regulations about parking configuration and lot width, we would also consider removing the related registered covenants and allow these properties to have secondary suites.


Adopting the above changes would make it easier for some owners to construct or legalize a secondary suite within their home, while still requiring enough on-site parking. Alternatively, the requirements could remain as they stand today.

Since 2012, secondary suites have been permitted in all but a few single detached residential zones, as long as they meet certain conditions. We regularly review these conditions to make sure they are working for the community.

There are three secondary suite requirements currently under review:

1. Removing the secondary suite requirement that all required parking spaces be free and clear of each other.

Homes with secondary suites must have two parking spaces for the occupants of the home and one parking space for the secondary suite tenant. Currently, all three parking spaces must have their own designated spot and tandem parking (a car parked right in front of another) is not allowed. All required parking must be on-site (street parking does not count), so a property with a suite needs to fit three parking spaces either side-by-side or far enough apart so that the parking spaces are easily accessible.

This requirement has resulted in wider driveways, complicated parking configurations (see image gallery on the right) and has made it difficult to meet other zoning regulations about permeability and front yard landscaping. In some cases, this requirement prevents owners from being able to have a legal secondary suite.

Should the City remove this current parking requirement, more properties would be eligible for secondary suites, more owners would be able to meet their landscaping requirements, and less yard area would be devoted to parking. Owners and tenants would need to agree among themselves on how to access their parking spaces without inconveniencing others. It is possible that street parking spaces would be used more often.

2. Removing the minimum lot width of 15 m (49 ft) to be eligible for a secondary suite.

Delta requires a minimum lot width of 15 m (49 ft) in order to be eligible for a secondary suite. Most newly subdivided lots and some irregularly shaped lots have lot widths narrower than that and are not able to have a secondary suite.

Over the years, suite parking requirements have changed and the rationale behind the specific
15 m (49 ft) minimum lot width is no longer relevant. As such, the 15 m (49 ft) minimum lot width requirement is being considered for removal.

If this requirement was removed, the City would allow suites on any properly zoned lot that could fit three required parking spaces on the property.

3. Discharging restrictive covenants that prohibit secondary suites on a property (should the zoning regulations change).

Many previously developed properties have a restrictive covenant registered on title that prohibits secondary suites. This type of restrictive covenant typically includes restrictions that mirror secondary suite zoning regulations and does not add any additional restrictions; however, it increases administrative work for City staff and adds cost and delay to applicants.

If Delta were to change the zoning regulations about parking configuration and lot width, we would also consider removing the related registered covenants and allow these properties to have secondary suites.


Adopting the above changes would make it easier for some owners to construct or legalize a secondary suite within their home, while still requiring enough on-site parking. Alternatively, the requirements could remain as they stand today.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

For the ease of responding, please stick to one topic or a single question per submission.  You can submit as many questions as you like.

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    Will point number 3 now allow homeowners with legal duplexes to register a secondary suite?

    calt asked 6 months ago

    Duplexes are currently unable to have legal suites. Removing restrictive covenants on suites will not change that current inability. 

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    Why won’t Delta allow secondary suites in Duplexes? other municipalities allow it in the lower mainland. We have so many older duplexes that would easily accommodate an in law suite. Would make housing more affordable for middle income earners.

    Tovab asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your suggestion.   At the moment, the City is only considering the three revisions proposed in this consultation.  We do welcome any other suggestions and feedback at the end of the Feedback Form, though, as all comments are compiled and reviewed by staff for Council's future consideration.

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    Does the City of delta want to support older parents accomadation living with there adult children in there home.

    gordonsever asked 6 months ago

    The City of Delta does support multi-generational households.  To help enable this, Delta accepts Secondary Suite Non Rental Annual Declarations and waives the secondary suite utilities for suite properties that meet the following criteria:

    • the property owner lives on the property as their principal residence; AND
    • the property is not generating rental income of any kind.
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    Would this restrict or open up secondary suites to be used for short term rentals. E.g. airbnb, vrbo, etc?

    Brian asked 6 months ago

    These proposed secondary suite amendments would not impact whether or not suites in Delta are used for short term rentals.   Delta's approach to short term rentals is an item of work that Staff have been reviewing over the past year and will be presented to Council at a later date.   

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    properties that have longer driveways and can park 4 cars on driveways can they be allowed to have legal suite

    kkjosan asked 6 months ago

    Yes.  Currently, Staff has determined that if a driveway is over 11 m (36 ft), then it is possible for 2 cars to be parked in tandem while leaving enough room to maneuver around each other; so if there is space for a third parking spot on the property, then they meet the current requirements.  

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    Would floor area restrictions such as RS4-A zoning restrictions fall under restrictive covenant that prohibits secondary suites? Thanks.

    wendyw asked 6 months ago

    Removing the restrictive covenants will not remove restrictions that exist for any zone.  If a restrictive covenant is removed for a property in the RS4-A zone, the various zoning requirements and restrictions for the RS4-A zone will still apply and will need to be met in order to have a secondary suite.  

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    What's the secondary suite definition? The separate entrance? Can it be on top of 3rd floor? Or in the backyard shred space? Or has to be coach home, split downstairs? Thanks

    sing4sunshine asked 6 months ago

    A Secondary Suite is defined as "an accessory dwelling unit that is located within a single detached dwelling, meets the BC Building Code and has been issued an occupancy permit".   A separate access is a requirement of the Building Code and is why suites are usually in basements or on the ground floor.  Coach houses and accessory buildings (sheds, etc) have their own definitions in the Zoning Bylaw and are not affected by the changes proposed in this consultation. 

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    My residence is located in a hilly part of North Delta and as such due to the slope, existing driveway parking is very restricted. This necessitates that homeowners and guests most often are forced to park on the street. With the number of secondary suites potentially increasing, I anticipate it will be increasingly difficult to find this street parking. Is there a legal mechanism ( perhaps within the bylaw) that can give priority access to the spaces in front of a one's own home?

    james asked 6 months ago

    There are no mechanisms or regulations in Delta's bylaws to give residents priority access to the street in front of their house.  While it is technically possible to introduce street parking regulations, priority access in front of one's house would be exceedingly difficult to implement and would need to be properly administered and enforced.  There are currently no plans to consider street parking regulations in Delta.  

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    In your secondary suite zoning requirement bylaw amendment you are assuming house owners only have two vehicles. What about households that have more than two vehicles which would take up additional space on the driveway and force the tenant to park somewhere else. Your proposed changes is open to manipulation with the assumption households have only two cars and that two cars will be parked in the garage. A lot of homeowners have more than two vehicles and some households don't park in the garage. New house builders will tell the city they have space for a secondary suite tenant to park when they propose to build a home but after they build their home, the truth will be that the family actually has four cars and the tenant will be forced to park off the property. You need some method to verify that people have only two cars and that they will park them in the garage. Your bylaw amendment will be manipulated once approval is granted by developers and new home builders that are dishonest.

    cjskang27 asked 6 months ago

    The City does not place any maximum on the number of personal cars any household can own and park, either on their property or on the street.  As such, the City cannot limit the number of cars owned on a property with a secondary suite.  The City can only require that a house with a secondary suite designate in advance which on-site parking space is meant to be used by the tenant.   


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    In neighbourhoods served by transit, will it be possible to include accessory dwelling units under the secondary suite housing regulations? Instead of a basement or ground level suite home owners could be permitted to build or park an accessory dwelling unit with the same inspection process and we could add a lot of affordable housing this way throughout the city.

    normvep asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your suggestion.   At the moment, the City is only considering the three revisions proposed in this consultation.  We do welcome any other suggestions and feedback at the end of the Feedback Form, though, as all comments are compiled and reviewed by staff for Council's future consideration.