Real Estate – Secondary and Backyard Suites in Calgary

The City of Calgary defines a self-contained dwelling unit that has separate living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities as a Secondary Suite if the unit is within the main residence, and a Backyard Suite if the unit is in a detached building. A permit process is required to develop a new suite or legalize an existing suite. These suites are only allowed within certain land use districts. Each district has different rules and requirements. You can determine if your property is eligible by entering your address here in the property information tool.

Suites that existed before 1970 are not required to meet the rules for that district, if the suite had no structural changes, and if the suite was never discontinued for a period of greater than six months. After 1970, suites developed are considered illegal unless they have the necessary approvals.

All such suites require a building permit to ensure safety requirements are met. Development permits are only required if such a suite is listed as a discretionary use in that district, or if bylaws are not met in a district where the use is permitted. The City may grant a relaxation where a bylaw is not met. City Council has approved a development permit exemption for secondary suites until March 3, 2017.

City council spends hours deliberating secondary suites

Video – 7 widely held beliefs about secondary suites

Please contact us if you have any questions about secondary suites.

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Peter Robinson (58 Posts)

Peter G. Robinson is an accomplished and skilled general practice lawyer in Calgary, Alberta. Over his 20 year career, Peter has carved out his niche in Residential Real Estate, Wills & Estate Planning, and Probate Applications. Uniquely available to his clients, Peter is a calm and patient communicator who easily puts his clients at ease with straight-forward explanations of legal concepts. Blogging is his latest venture to cultivate awareness of NW Calgary Law, a law firm where he is the hands-on leader of an enthusiastic team dedicated to prompt and efficient service. Follow Peter on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit The content contained in these blogs is intended to provide information about the subject matter and is not intended as legal advice. If you would like further information or advice on any of the subjects discussed in this blog post, please contact the author at NW Calgary Law at 403.265.3010 or

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