Cold Lake council allocates $100,000 toward secondary suite program

During the regular council meeting held on May 15, the program was approved unanimously, providing a $5,000 incentive for each newly developed secondary suite or for the legalization of existing suites that were built without proper permits.

CAO Kevin Nagoya explained the rationale behind the program, stating, “This is to provide a little bit of a monetary grant in order for it to help with either kind of permitting costs or even sometimes some of the construction costs maybe. There is some suites that are out there, or actually probably legal suites that just haven't been registered. This would help with their permitting costs.”

Nagoya further elaborated on the potential benefits of the program to help individuals legalize their basement suites, noting that in some cases, people may not have wanted to pay the permits, and in other cases the funds could help with renovations, to add a door or improve ventilation systems, for example.

According to the City of Cold Lake, council has allocated a total of $100,000 to the program, which is enough to support the development or legalization of 20 secondary suites over the next year.

Coun. Vicki Lefebvre raised concerns regarding parking, especially in areas like cul-de-sacs where space is already limited.

“I'm not sure where it's covered, or should I look someplace different in regards to parking? Because it would be a concern if you've got a secondary suite that's in a cul-de-sac and there's no parking in front.”

Lefebvre further questioned, “Do we have that covered somewhere else in our parking bylaws... or if our emergency vehicles can't come in and things like that because there's too many vehicles on the street?”

Responding to the concerns, Nagoya said, “It's a good question. It won't be part of this process. This is just the cash incentive component of the conversation.” He noted that the Land Use Bylaw has parking requirements instilled within that document.

Mayor Craig Copeland spoke in support of the incentive program, saying, “Our council has been focused on incentivizing a mix of housing options in our community. Our housing market is skewed towards single detached homes and so we’ve needed to come up with innovative ways to encourage other housing options.”

To qualify for the incentive, secondary suites must be in appropriately zoned residential districts, have approved development and building permits, comply with all relevant bylaws and building codes, and be completed within 12 months. The property must also not be in tax arrears, according to the city of Cold Lake.

“Providing a mix of housing will allow for people to take affordable steps towards home ownership and will help to build a resilient community with sustainable, affordable housing options,” said Copeland.

A motion was carried by council, approving the incentive program.

The program is set to run for one year or until the $100,000 cap is reached.

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lakeland This Week