GHRA response for the Public hearing on Garden Suites

September 10, 2020

For the Public Hearing on Garden Suites

The Gordon Head Residents’ Association is pleased to note that many of the comments that we made in our presentation to you of May 30, 2019 have been addressed in the present proposal. Thank you.

We realize that our community is an evolving one and we see the inclusion of secondary suites as proposed, to be a step in the process of respectful densification of residential neighbourhoods in Saanich.

We are pleased to see that Council has decided to proceed to introduce garden suites by creating a development permit area. We believe that this process will ensure that consideration has been given to the “Design Guidelines” and will result in structures that are appropriate for the site.

We are generally pleased with the recommendations in the planning report and the content of the proposed bylaw changes as well as the design guidelines. We believe that the open site space requirements and the rear lot coverage requirements are important on order to ensure that garden suites do not overwhelm the lot.

Many of the concerns of our residents will be assuaged by knowing that only, either a garden suite or auxiliary suite will be allowed on a lot. This will allow for a reasonable increase in the densification of our neighbourhoods. With the recent changes in the CB Building Code and Saanich Bylaws, the prospect of having up to 18 unrelated individuals living in three dwellings on one lot was very much of a concern to our residents.

Likewise, we are pleased to see that the registered owner of the property will be required by covenant, to reside in either in the garden suite or in the main dwelling. This will achieve the stated goals of these proposals  while supporting the essential residential character of our neighbourhoods.

We suggest, however, that there are some provisions of the bylaws that should be changed to strengthen the stated desire to preserve the “character of our neighbourhoods”.

Lot Size

We continue to assert that any lot smaller than the minimum size for an RS8 zoned lot (665m2) should be considered a “small lot” for the purposes of this bylaw.


In order to reduce the number of vehicles that are parked on lawns and boulevards the number of parking spaces should be as is required in table 7.1 of the bylaw. We refer to line 1.1 and recommend two spaces per dwelling unit for all dwelling units that have one or more separate bedrooms.

Design Guidelines 

We very much appreciate the “Garden Suite Design Guidelines”.  However, we would like to see the language used in them to be more prescriptive in critical areas.

Specifically: Section 2.1 paragraphs: 1. Location; 2. Tree Protection and 3. Impervious Services should be mandatory.  Section 2.2 Sloping Sites and Section 2.2.19 dealing with mechanical equipment, both require strengthening.

In section 2.7 of the design guidelines we believe that section 2.7.1 that deals with rainwater infiltration and 2.7.2 permeable surfaces, should both be mandatory.


We acknowledge that some individuals may think that the present proposal does not go far enough to support alternative accommodation in Saanich.

We believe it is a good start and any further changes to the proposals under discussion should be based on experience with these changes and perhaps on the outcome of Saanich’s present housing initiative.

In closing, we must add that of vital importance to the residence of what were previously single-family zones, are effective regulation and consistent enforcement of Saanich bylaws

The present proposal would seem to provide the regulations. We would certainly like to see this backed up with enforcement both at the approval stage and as these structures are built in our neighbourhoods.

Finally, we have an important question for council.

What do you intend to do with all the existing properties that contravene not only the present bylaws and building codes, but will not meet the requirements of either the proposed amended bylaw or the design guidelines?

Thank you for this opportunity to respond to the proposed bylaw changes regarding Garden Suites.


Donald Gunn

For The Board of Directors of

The Gordon Head Residents’ Association.