Project Description

Supporting the Affordable Housing Principled Action Plan passed by Council in June 2023, and in light of the increasing number of accessory suite applications received by the City, City Staff have been tasked with reviewing the regulations for accessory suites.

The review aims to identify barriers associated with creating accessory suites, and recommend updates to the regulations in the City's Land Use Bylaw to reduce those barriers in appropriate locations city-wide.

  • Ultimately, reducing identified barriers has the potential to increase in the supply of accessory suites thereby increasing the housing choices available within Airdrie. This also serves to meet the growing demand of residents interested in these types of housing options.

Types of Accessory Suites

Types of Accessory Suites

A garage suite is a form of accessory suite. A garage suite is a small home above a garage or attached to it. It has its own door, separate from the vehicle entrance and has a kitchen, bed and bathroom separate from the principal home.

A garden suite is a form of accessory suite. A garden suite is a small home separate from the principal residence, usually in a backyard. It has a kitchen, bed and bathroom separate from the principal home.

A secondary suite is a form of accessory suite. A secondary suite is a small home located within the principal residence. It has a kitchen, bed and bathroom separate from the principal home.

Current Guidelines

Sections 6.22.1 to 6.22.3 of the Land Use Bylaw outline the regulations that apply to accessory suites. However there are several key regulations that determine if your property can accommodate an accessory suite:

  • Allowed Land Use
    • The land use district of your property lists a garden, garage and/or secondary suite as either a permitted or discretionary use.
  • Single, Detached Dwelling
    • The suite must be located within or on the same property as a single, detached dwelling. They are not allowed with a duplex, townhouse or other types of residential units.
  • No other conflicting uses
    • The property must not already contain a bed and breakfast, child care facility, supportive housing facility, another suite, or a home business that interacts with clients at the property.
  • Parking
    • There must be two parking spaces provided for the main dwelling/house, plus one space per bedroom (up to a maximum of two) for the accessory suite in accordance with Section 4.4 of the Land Use Bylaw. All parking must be located on the property. On-street parking is not counted as parking for the purpose of an accessory suite application.
  • Size of property
    • In the case of Garage and Secondary suites, the property (not the house) must be at least 13.0m (42ft) wide and must be at least 400m² (approx. 4,300ft²) in area.
    • In the case of a Garden suite, the property (not the house) must be at least 600m² (approx. 6,500ft²) in area.


In situations where the above Land Use Bylaw standards can’t be met, the City is able to determine whether the standard can be relaxed (which is called a “variance”) to allow for a garage suite, garden suite, or secondary suite application to be approved.

There are two important tests to determine if a variance can be granted:

  • The variance cannot allow the development of the accessory suite to negatively affect the amenities of the neighbourhood or neighbouring properties.
  • The variance must be something that is unique or specific to the property (i.e. why should the variance grant an exception to the rule?)

Why accessory suites?

A priority of City Council is to “offer a full range of integrated below–market housing options that will allow residents to access housing that is achievable on their income."

Many factors influence housing affordability - and the Affordable Housing Principled Action Plan identifies availability of accessory suites as a contributing factor to increase diverse housing types which in turn improves affordability of housing in the city.

Potential benefits of accessory suites include:

  • Entry to home ownership
  • Supplemental income for homeowners
  • Diverse and inclusive housing opportunities
  • Multi-generational living
  • Housing for in-home care
  • Affordable rental options
  • Serves our local labour force
  • Encourages sustainable development and growth
  • Efficient use of infrastructure and land
  • Aligns with urban development goals

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