Secondary Suites

What is a Secondary Suite?

A secondary suite has cooking facilities, food preparation, sleeping and sanitary facilities which are physically separate from those of the principal dwelling within the structure.

A secondary suite also has an entrance separate from the entrance to the principal dwelling. A secondary suite includes the development or conversion of basement space or above-grade space to a separate dwelling, or the addition of new floor space for a secondary suite to an existing single detached dwelling.

Where is a secondary suite allowed in the City of Chestermere?

Before developing a secondary suite or bringing an existing suite up to code, you will first need to find out if secondary suites are allowed in your area and if you can renovate to meet the necessary code standards.

 The City of Chestermere’s Land Use Bylaw 022-10, as amended only allows secondary suites as a Discretionary Use in the following Land Use Districts:

Residential Single Detached District (R-1)
Residential Estate District (R-1E)
Residential Estate Modified District (R-1EM)
Residential Lakeshore District (R-1L)
Residential Semi Detached District (R-2) [in association with a single detached dwelling only]

What are the development permit criteria for Secondary Suites?  

  • All Secondary Suites shall comply with the Safety Codes Act at least one on-site parking space shall be provided for a secondary suite in addition to the parking requirements for the principal dwelling pursuant to Part 8 of this Bylaw.
  • A secondary suite shall be developed in such a manner that the exterior of the principal building containing the secondary suite shall appear as a single dwelling.
  • Only one secondary suite may be developed in conjunction with a principal dwelling.
  • A secondary suite shall not be developed within the same principal dwelling containing a Major Home Business, unless the secondary suite is an integral part of a Bed and Breakfast Operation.
  • A secondary suite shall not be subject to separation from the principal dwelling through a condominium conversion or subdivision.

What does discretionary use mean and how does it impact me? 

A requirement of a Discretionary Use is to inform the public and affected neighbors about the proposed development in Chestermere. Public input will occur during your Development Permit application period via public advertisement in the local newspaper and letters to adjacent landowners.

The opinions of your neighbors and community are important to The City, and the public has an opportunity to provide input on your Development Permit application. The City recommends discussing your secondary suite plans with your neighbors before or during the planning phase. Common issues can be addressed early, and your design might be able to accommodate concerns to help make your application process smoother for everyone.

Should the City receive an appeal to your Secondary Suite application, then a hearing before the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board will be booked within 30 days of the receipt of the appeal. Whether or not your application is issued is now in the hands of the appeal board.

Safety & Building Code
All new and existing secondary suites are required to be safe in accordance with the Alberta Safety Code Act, which includes the Alberta Building Code and the Alberta Fire Code.

General suites requirements, may include, but not limited to:

  • At least one exit direct to outside
  • Minimum one bedroom window of a minimum size, and certain style
  • Window wells of a certain size
  • Minimum ceiling height
  • Fire and or smoke separation between dwelling units and heating equipment (basement suite)
  • Independent heating (furnace, floor heating, wall mount heating units) and ventilation systems (separate ductwork or Heat-Recovery Ventilator system).
  • Hot water supply and certain water receptacles (kitchen sink, toilet, etc)
  • Accessible laundry area
Please refer to application package for more information and Alberta Building Code.

What does the application process look like?

  1. If your property is not zoned for secondary suites, a Land Use Redesignation will be required. Typically these applications take about three to six months to complete and must be approved by City Council.
  2. A Development Permit is mandatory when creating a secondary suite. These applications typically take 1 month to three months to complete, depending on whether an appeal has been received.
  3. A Building Permit is mandatory when creating a secondary suite and can only be applied for after the Development Permit has been issued.
  4. Should your development and building permits be issued, construction or renovations can begin. The time required to complete your Secondary Suite depends on your personal plans, but all construction must meet all Safety code requirements for occupancy to be approved. You have one year on your building permit to complete. Chestermere has an extension process for which you can apply for an extension on or before the expiry date should you require it.

Download Secondary Suite Permit Application Package here.

Contact Information

Community Growth & Infrastructure
Monday through Friday (Closed on Holidays) 8:30am – 4:30pm
Phone: (403) 207-7075

Other Resources