A Guide to Secondary Suites in Greater Victoria (2019)

There are 13 municipalities in the Capital Regional District (CRD). Each of these municipalities have different bylaws regarding the use of secondary suites. It’s important consumers are aware of these bylaws and how they impact the legality of a secondary suite at their current property or at a property they are interested in purchasing.

History of Suites in Victoria

In 2013, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimated that there were approximately 20,000 active secondary suites in Victoria.

For many years, suites in Greater Victoria served as a means to provide secondary living spaces for hired housekeepers. Eventually, they transitioned into more common outlets for housing families, students, and other Victoria residents.

What constitutes a suite in Victoria?

In the Capital Regional District (CRD), there are two types of suites:

(1) a secondary suite is a suite that is part of the main house. All 13 CRD municipalities are on the same page here and use the term secondary suite.

(2) an accessory suite is a suite located in a separate building. Accessory suites are called many different names across each of Victoria’s municipalities. Variations include: garden suites, accessory dwelling units, cottages, and carriage houses.

What makes a suite legal in Victoria?

A suite is deemed legal in Greater Victoria if, at the time of construction, the suite:

  • complied with the applicable zoning bylaws
  • followed the BC Building Code
  • was built with the proper municipal permits

Which municipalities allow secondary suites?

Does your community permit secondary or accessory suites? View the list below to find out!

Legend

Secondary Suites: are they permitted?
Accessory Suites: are they permitted?
Name of Accessory Suite
Owner-Occupier: does the owner need to live at the residence?
Extra Parking: designated parking spots for the suite

Central Saanich

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Yes (limited areas)
Name of Accessory Suite – Carriage House
Owner-Occupied – Yes
Extra Parking – 1

Colwood

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Yes (many areas)
Name of Accessory Suite – Accessory Dwelling Unit
Owner-Occupied – Yes
Extra Parking – 1

Esquimalt

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – No
Name of Accessory Suite – N/A
Owner-Occupied – No
Extra Parking – 1

Langford

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Yes (limited areas)
Name of Accessory Suite – Secondary Suite
Owner-Occupied – Yes
Extra Parking – 1

Metchosin

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Yes
Name of Accessory Suite – Detached Secondary Suite
Owner-Occupied – No
Extra Parking – 2

North Saanich

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Yes (in many areas)
Name of Accessory Suite – Guest Cottage or Carriage House
Owner-Occupied – No
Extra Parking – 1

Oak Bay

Secondary and Accessory Suites are not permitted

Sidney

Secondary and Accessory Suites are permitted in most areas

Saanich

Secondary Suites – Yes (most areas)
Accessory Suites – Yes (limited areas)
Name of Accessory Suite – Accessory Dwelling Unit
Owner-Occupied – Yes
Extra Parking – 1

Sooke

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Yes (most residential zones)
Name of Accessory Suite – Small Suite
Owner-Occupied – Yes
Extra Parking – 1

Victoria

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Yes (most single-family lots)
Name of Accessory Suite – Garden Suite
Owner-Occupied – No
Extra Parking – 0

View Royal

Secondary Suites – Yes
Accessory Suites – Not Permitted
Name of Accessory Suite – N/A
Owner-Occupied – Yes
Extra Parking – 1

This summary on secondary suites in Victoria should not be the only data relied upon regarding suite zoning in Greater Victoria. For more information, please reach out to your local Bylaw office.


Do you have questions or comments about secondary suites in Greater Victoria?