Edmonton moves forward on basement suites

The city is moving ahead with a plan to allow secondary suites in most residential areas of Edmonton.

The city is moving ahead with a plan to allow secondary suites in most residential areas of Edmonton.

After a public hearing Wednesday, a city council committee voted to send the plan back to administrators to come with more detailed rules for the suites.

Edmonton officials want to help ease the housing crunch by getting more secondary suites on the market.

An estimated 10,000 homeowners rent out suites in their homes, but the majority are illegal. For the plan to work, thousands of existing illegal suites would have to conform to new zoning rules.

Mayor Stephen Mandel said Wednesday he doesn't want to rush the process.

"We're facing a crisis here of getting housing and we've got to find ways to do it. I'm not sure if this will solve it, but with this, plus many other things, we can try."

At the public meeting,the majority of the speakers were in favour of allowing basement suites, but they wanted to make sure rules are followed.

Michael Mooney, with the Urban Development Institute, said the city should take action now.

"We need these affordable suites; we need the secondary suites approved so that they can come into the market at the fastest possible pace to assist us in the housing crisis that we're facing."

Negative effects worry some

Nancy Rempel, who lives beside a home with a basement suite, said theycan have a negative effect onthe neighbourhood.

"A lot of the people who come and go are transient and very short-term," she said."They don't buy into being part of a neighbourhood, and that's really important to me —to be neighbourly and get along with your neighbour as best you can."

Valden Palm, who is in the real estate business, told CBC News "basement suites are ahugely needed component, in my mind. It's a lot easier to implement that sort of program in the marketplace rather than the government getting into building new suites."

If the city makes things too difficult, Palm warned, many would rent their suites without following the rules.