Adding a new small housing unit detached from the main home is a very viable means of increasing density while minimizing disruption to established communities. This is a form of Gentle Density which defines the sweet spot between low-and high-density development.
While some cities are considering allowing three or four homes to be built on existing lots or encouraging more multi-unit development to achieve higher density, it has often been met with significant local citizen pushback, sometimes referred to as NIMBYism. Backyard Suites provide a unique opportunity to bring gentle density into the existing neighborhood, with less of the perceived negative consequences. This form of gentle density brings the benefits of smarter growth, including easy access to amenities, safer streets, and a variety of housing types, to established communities.
The Regina & Region Home Builders’ Association has long advocated for Backyard Suites as a permitted use in our new and existing neighbourhoods in Regina. We applaud Mayor Masters, City Council and City Administration taking the courageous step to make this type of building form now a possibility to happen throughout Regina.
Backyard Suites are almost non-existent in Regina, but could provide many benefits to the homeowners like:
There are significant community benefits as well:
Cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver along with the majority of Ontario municipalities have benefited from the significant level of allowable Backyard Suites.
While there are restriction on height, maximum size and owners need to choose between a secondary suite or a backyard suite (both will not be allowed) we are confident the newly designed regulations will ensure this form of housing is well integrated into the existing neighborhoods. Backyard homes can be a key element in policies that transition towards a more sustainable City.