“Secondary suite” means an accessory use consisting of one additional self-contained dwelling unit located within a single dwelling. Some typical examples are a basement suite or a nanny suite.

These suites are only permissible within specific land use zonings. Contact Planning and Development Services to discuss your proposed development. 

Suites not connected to the house cannot be considered a secondary suite. Please see the Garden Suites page for information on this type of suite. 

General information

  • Cannot be located in a duplex, semi-detached, multiple, townhouse, agricultural, family care or apartment dwelling.
  • Only one secondary suite may be considered per dwelling.
  • Secondary suites shall not be developed in a dwelling that contains a group home, care centre or bed and breakfast. 
  • A minimum of three on-site parking stalls must be provided (two for the principal dwelling and one for the secondary suite) which conform to parking regulations.
  • The land title cannot be subdivided for a secondary suite use.
  • Bedrooms shall have no less than one outside window or exterior door openable from the inside providing an unobstructed opening of less than 0.35 sq. metres (3.77 sq. feet) in area. No dimension of the openable portion may be less than 380 mm (15 inches).
  • Ceiling height minimum for secondary suites is 6.4 ft. (1.95 m)
  • The maximum size shall not exceed 40% of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling.
  • Smoke alarms must be hard-wired and interconnected with the main house so they will operate in unison.
  • Exit can be provided either by direct exterior exit or an exit with stairs leading from the basement to a main floor entry (that has a doorway to the outside).
  • Fire protected walls and ceiling (use of 1/2 inch drywall) are required between a basement suite and the main house as well as around common exits. 
  • Electrical, plumbing and gas work must be done by a certified professional (e.g. master electrician, journeyman trades person).
  • Heating and ventilation for the suite must be independent from the main house. 
  • Gas furnaces and water heaters have to be enclosed in a room with fire protected walls and ceiling (use of 1/2 inch drywall).
  • Doors leading to a smoke tight area shall be solid core, wood doors, at least 45 mm thick and have a self-closing device. 
  • Water and sewer must be provided through the main house.
  • Must contain at least two rooms, in which a bedroom, cooking facilities and a bathroom are provided.

Printable brochure - secondary suites (192.5 KB)

Applying for permits

To obtain the necessary permits, you will be required to submit:

  • A completed development permit application form with landowner signature.
  • A completed building permit application form. 
  • Three copies of the site plan (a photocopy of the Real Property Report is preferred) identifying the parking locations and second entrance. 
  • Three copies of the floor plans for each level of the entire dwelling (principal and suite) with dimensions and rooms labeled. Window sizes and smoke detector locations must also be shown. 
  • Photographs of the exterior of the dwelling (all four sides).
  • Current copy of land title (printed within the last 30 days).
  • A completed  fire safety plan (84.5 KB) - information on construction fire safety plans and protection requirements. 

Plumbing requirements for basement secondary suites

National Plumbing Code of Canada, clause

The following applies to both new construction and renovations/additions. 

Where there is a secondary suite in a basement, all basement fixtures including floor drains must be protected from sanitary sewer backflow. This must be done in such a way that the wastewater from upstairs fixtures cannot backup into the basemen fixtures, even in the event of a clogged building drain. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Normally, closed backwater valves can be installed on all branches serving basement fixtures. If this is done, no stack serving the upstairs can be connected to the branch upstream of the backwater valve. Alternatively, a normally open mainline backwater valve may be used provided that all stacks serving the above ground occupancy are connected to the building drain downstream of the backwater valve. Normally, open mainline back water valves can serve only a one-occupancy dwelling. Adding a legal basement suite would then become a two-occupancy dwelling. 

Secondary suite fees

Please see "Secondary Suite " in the current development and building fee schedules

Note: The Safety Code Council fee also applies to secondary suites. Please see the current building fee schedule. 

More information:

Planning and Development Services
Phone: 780-464-8080
Fax: 780-464-8142
Email: planninganddevelopment@strathcona.ca

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Last updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Page ID: 40965