Backyard Suites

Consultation has concluded

Backyard suites, previously referred to as laneway and garden suites, are secondary living units in their own structure on a residential lot; they can be beside or above a garage or in a standalone structure. Backyard suites are becoming an increasingly popular housing option across Canada.

Backyard suites deliver on goals and strategies in the City of Regina’s Official Community Plan and the Comprehensive Housing Strategy to foster secondary suites, ensure diverse housing types for people in all stages of life, incomes, and abilities and to encourage alternative building forms.

For residents and neighbourhoods, backyard suites can provide a multitude of benefits, such as:

  • Being an alternative to secondary suites/basement suites with more natural light and privacy
  • Allowing multi-generational families to live on the same property
  • Providing extra income for property owners as a rental or short-term accommodation
  • Fostering complete communities and efficient use of infrastructure
  • Increasing safety in alleys
  • Having more customers near local businesses

In the last decade, the City has explored backyard suites through three pilot projects, which saw 28 backyard suites built throughout the city in new and established neighbourhoods. Feedback from the pilot projects suggested there is support for backyard suites as an alternative housing option throughout the city, while outlining some areas for improvement.

Your input, coupled with best practices from across Canada and key learnings from our pilot projects, helped refine the proposed regulations. In July 2022, the bylaw was approved by City Council. The new bylaw permits backyard suites in more locations and simplifies the development standards compared to the pilot projects.

Visit Regina.ca/build to learn more and apply for your backyard suite permit anywhere in Regina.

Backyard suites, previously referred to as laneway and garden suites, are secondary living units in their own structure on a residential lot; they can be beside or above a garage or in a standalone structure. Backyard suites are becoming an increasingly popular housing option across Canada.

Backyard suites deliver on goals and strategies in the City of Regina’s Official Community Plan and the Comprehensive Housing Strategy to foster secondary suites, ensure diverse housing types for people in all stages of life, incomes, and abilities and to encourage alternative building forms.

For residents and neighbourhoods, backyard suites can provide a multitude of benefits, such as:

  • Being an alternative to secondary suites/basement suites with more natural light and privacy
  • Allowing multi-generational families to live on the same property
  • Providing extra income for property owners as a rental or short-term accommodation
  • Fostering complete communities and efficient use of infrastructure
  • Increasing safety in alleys
  • Having more customers near local businesses

In the last decade, the City has explored backyard suites through three pilot projects, which saw 28 backyard suites built throughout the city in new and established neighbourhoods. Feedback from the pilot projects suggested there is support for backyard suites as an alternative housing option throughout the city, while outlining some areas for improvement.

Your input, coupled with best practices from across Canada and key learnings from our pilot projects, helped refine the proposed regulations. In July 2022, the bylaw was approved by City Council. The new bylaw permits backyard suites in more locations and simplifies the development standards compared to the pilot projects.

Visit Regina.ca/build to learn more and apply for your backyard suite permit anywhere in Regina.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Have questions about backyard suites? Pose them here and have them answered by our team.  

  • If a Resident wanted to build a Backyard Suite will the Neighbors on each side be notified that this is taking place? Would the Neighbors be able to challenge this Build?

    Willow asked 6 months ago

    Hi Willow, Thanks for the question. 

    Our current proposal is to permit them in the same way secondary suites are permitted. If someone wants to build a basement unit they would go ahead and apply for permits from the City, a property owner might notify the neighbours to give them a heads up on contractors coming and going but the City does not notify neighbours. We recommend that those looking to build Backyard Suites engage with their neighbours and have open communication to address any potential concerns that might arise.

    Understandably, backyard suites are not the same as secondary suites and involve building another structure on the property. We’ve designed our regulations with several goals in mind including reducing potential impacts on neighbours, which we’ve done with additional setbacks for any second storeys and lowered height limits.

    Much like a deck or garage, the property owner applies directly through the City. As long as it meets the rules in the Zoning Bylaw and other applicable legislation, property owners are able to build or renovate on their property as they wish.

  • I would like more information about zoning and backyard suites as I am a senior who will soon require residence adjustments to my property to enable me to remain in my home with support from family. A backhyard suite would provide an optimal solution to be able to age in place. Please contnue with this project as we all know housing is an essential ingrediant for a healthy city.

    Gloria613 asked 7 months ago

    Hi Gloria613, thanks for the question,

    We’re proposing permitting them in most parts of the city, it will depend on the type of building you are in and the zone you are in. To check the zone of your property, visit the city’s zoning bylaw map online at Regina.ca/zoningbylaw.

    Specifically:

    Behind Single Detached Homes – permitted in the RU, RN, RL, and R1 zones

    Behind Semi-Detached and Row/Town Homes – permitted in the RL and RH zones

    Behind Stacked Town Homes/Apartments/Condos – not permitted

  • parking is a issue up hear on hawkstone the street parking is horrible people don't shovel for street parking and cars are more than 6 feet from the curb and you have to hope not hit anymore cars or someone getting to there car so I don't think it should happen

    David asked 7 months ago

    Thanks for your feedback. Parking requirements aim to balance the diversity of potential residents both in the primary dwelling and in the Backyard Suite. The requirements are a minimum, so if someone wants to build a Backyard Suite and they know they will need more parking, they could incorporate that into their design. For example, with a garage and a parking pad.

    View page 5 in the draft regulations document that talks about parking recommendations for backyard suites. If you have specific questions about this project, please let us know!

  • Backyard/Garden/Laneway suites are an excellent idea for Regina!

    JParks asked 7 months ago

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • Backyard suites is an excellent idea for Regina!

    Dhruv asked 7 months ago

    Thank you for the feedback! 

  • After realizing the shortage of space to park and store and place out blue, brown and green carts in new areas, will these suites only be allowed in areas where there is enough space for these issues?

    AK2001 asked 7 months ago

    Hi AK2001, thanks for the question.

    Think of Backyard Suites as another option for a second unit, instead of, for example, a basement suite. The impacts of either on parking and bins is quite low. 

    On collection days you may see more bins out in the lane. We believe lanes crowded with bins are unique to the pilot projects since this involved quite a few suites in one lane. Our third pilot project focused on infill in established neighbourhoods and we didn’t see the same concern. 

    We encourage designs for Backyard Suites to include appropriate screening for recycling and waste bins. Single properties with Backyard Suites should have little visual impact from extra bins. Residents are still expected to roll their carts back after their recycling/garbage has been collected.

  • How many per lot? What are the parameters involved. What can you use for a building?

    Notspcrazytrucker asked 7 months ago

    Hi, thanks for the question.

    One Backyard Suite per property for a total of two units: main house and Backyard Suite. 

    There are a number of proposed rules you can view in the ‘Draft Regulations’ under the “Documents” section on this page. They tell you things like max height and distance from various lot lines. 

    A Backyard Suite must be a building, so mobile homes will not be permitted as Backyard Suites. The look of the building is up to you as long as it meets setback and height rules. We recommend it is designed to match the main building. It will also need to meet building and fire codes.

  • Parking: The City of Saskatoon requires the following: Two hard-surfaced on-site parking spaces are required. The parking space for the garden or garage suite may be in the front yard if the site does not have a rear lane. On corner sites, the parking for the garden or garage suite may be accessed from the flanking street. City of Regina's proposal for parking: Parking requirements are the same as for all dwelling unit types. One parking space is required per dwelling unit. You will need one for the primary dwelling and one for the Backyard Suite. Parking requirements can be met with spaces in a garage, a parking pad, or a driveway. The City currently accepts tandem parking (back-to-back) to meet these requirements. City of Winnipeg: A lot containing a secondary suite must contain a minimum of 2 off-street parking spaces. The parking regulations look similar, but a major difference emerges when you compare what Winnipeg allows (or more so, does not allow backyard suites to be used for), compared to what Regina is proposing. In essence, it appears that Regina is proposing a residential 'parking' solution while allowing backyard suites to be used for 'business' purposes (but with no upwards adjustment made with regard to parking). City of Winnipeg: A secondary suite shall not be utilized as a home based business, a care home, or a neighbourhood rehabilitation home. Regina: from the proposed regulations: CAN I RENT OUT MY BACKYARD SUITE? WHAT ABOUT USING IT FOR SHORT-TERM RENTALS? Yes, you can use your Backyard Suite as a rental property or to host guests as a short-term accommodation. Check both city and provincial rules on these uses. Question: It appears that Regina is open to allowing backyard suites to be used as a business (short-term rental) without requiring any additional parking, and from the proposed regulations the City of Regina is going so far as to appear to encourage backyard suites be used for (the business of) short-term accommodation. If I am the owner of a backyard suite using it to increase the supply of housing, it appears that the City of Regina is open to other backyard suites that may surround my primary residence/backyard suite unit being a residence/short-term rental combination. The end result could be a family primary residence/extended family backyard suite next to a primary residence that is a rental residence, with a short-term accommodation backyard suite. At minimum, would a business license/approval be required before any use of a backyard suite as a short-term accommodation, and what recourse would neighbours have if they were concerned about backyard suites being used for this business purpose? Also, isn't a short-term accommodation a home-based business?

    Stefan asked 7 months ago

    Hello and thanks for the questions. 

    Our parking requirements aim to balance the diversity of potential residents both in the larger dwelling and in the Backyard Suite. The requirements are a minimum, so if someone wants to build a Backyard Suite and they know they will need more parking, they should incorporate that into their design. For example, with a garage and a parking pad. To determine our proposed requirements, on top of Winnipeg and Saskatoon, we also looked at Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, as well as our own requirements here at the City of Regina for primary homes and secondary suites.  

    Short Term Accommodations are a type of Residential Business and will need to be licenced according to the Residential Short Term Accommodation Licensing Bylaw. More information can be found at Regina.ca/shortterm

    Residential Businesses whether in the main house, secondary suite, or Backyard Suite are businesses that are low impact and do not require parking. An example might include home offices of the resident, a tutor that visits their clients, or a small catering service.

  • Why has it taken 6 years to start discussing this again....

    DerekE asked 7 months ago

    Hi Derek, great question!

    The last pilot project was in 2016. We did a post occupancy survey in 2019, this allowed everyone involved, especially property owners and residents, to get used to living in and near Backyard Suites. You can find a summary of these results in the documents section on this project page. The original plan was to compile the results of the 2019 survey and present a proposal to Council in 2020. 

    This plan, as with many others, had to adapt to the circumstances of the pandemic. Recently, we’ve been able to start this project up again and grow our team to include new colleagues who are eager to engage with the community and deliver solutions for Regina’s unique planning challenges.

    This engagement will serve as a check-in. Coupled with the survey in 2019, it will inform our proposal to Council.

  • What about parking there are already issues in Harbour landing with cars parked on the streets all day and not moved for days on end. snow clearing with parked cars too close to alley openings to see to get out safely.

    lab asked 7 months ago

    Hi there, thanks for the question. 

    Our parking requirements aim to balance the diversity of potential residents both in the larger dwelling and in the Backyard Suite. The requirements are a minimum, so if someone wants to build a Backyard Suite and they know they will need more parking, they should incorporate that into their design. For example, with a garage and a parking pad.