One City councillor wants to see people who construct illegal suites — or even plan them in their new homes — hit harder in the pocketbook.
Coun. Pat Wallace raised the idea of tripling or quadrupling the fines charged to people who are caught with illegal suites who then apply to get them legalized. She wants the City to look into it in the new year.
The issue arose Tuesday during City council’s regular meeting. City development and engineering services director Marvin Kwiatkowski said an illegal suite was discovered in a newly built house where City inspectors had gone to do a final check on a retaining wall.
The Copperhead Drive house hadn’t been given a full occupancy permit because of the inspection, he said.
“At that time, it was obvious there was a suite,” he said.
In such cases, the City usually charges the owner double the application fee to have the property rezoned so the suite is legal.
Coun. Pat Wallace asked if the owners, Jagdev and Harbhjan Judge, had the house built for them.
Kwiatkowski said yes.
Wallace said doubling the application fee doesn’t seem to be deterring people from building big houses and adding illegal suites, rather than following the City’s rules and getting their property rezoned.
She said it seems as though more people are building first and asking for the City’s forgiveness afterward.
“We get more people doing this, building large houses and asking for permission after the fact. Under the charter, we can deny. I'm not going to today, but I'm disappointed we’re getting more of these.
“And people with small houses are converting for extra income and pretending they'll be living in it by themselves.”
Then she asked Kwiatkowski if the fees could be tripled or quadrupled rather than just doubled.
City deputy corporate clerk Cindy Kennedy said she’d check with legal counsel about that.
“We get some large houses — neighbours are distressed when they see them going up. They say it's all family and then it's not. Not necessarily this one, but others in the past,” said Wallace.
“I will be looking at raising fees for those who build big houses with intent of putting in an illegal suite.”
Council voted unanimously to allow the Copperhead Drive suite rezoning go to public hearing. Coun. Tina Lange excused herself from the discussion as she owns rental homes.