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Secondary Suites Are Coming

In 2024, Copper Island Fine Homes will celebrate its 20th year of home construction here in the Shuswap. Throughout our two decades of business, a growing number of clients have asked if we can be contracted to build secondary housing units on their properties – either additions to their existing house or a suite in a separate building – that can be used as homes for aging parents or young adult children, or as a way of providing rental income.

For the most part, we’ve had to inform them that it’s not possible because the Columbia Shuswap Regional Districit (CSRD) has never allowed these types of secondary suites. But that’s now changing, as the CSRD has acknowledged the increasing shortage of rental units and is now moving forward with policy changes to allow construction of these suites.

In fact, the CSRD has launched a public survey inviting input as it works on proposed zoning amendments to permit secondary dwelling units, or SDUs, in Electoral Areas B through G (Copper Island Fine Homes work primarily in areas C, F and G). These amendments are a response to a housing needs assessment, conducted between 2018 and 2021, that concluded that “rental accommodation is scarce and unaffordable in all our CSRD communities, and home ownership is unaffordable for many people.”

Specifically, the CSRD has proposed allowing SDUs of up to 1,500 square feet in most rural and residential zones. A SDU is defined as having its own private bathroom, kitchen, living and sleeping areas, and can be a self-contained rental apartment that’s part of an existing home, or a detached unit such as a carriage house or garage. Any garage space in a detached unit is not included in the 1,500 square foot restriction.

The survey is asking for public input on the proposed size of SDUs, particularly as they relate to the size of the existing property.

In addition to amending zoning rules to support secondary dwelling units, the CSRD is also looking at zoning bylaw changes that would accommodate increasing the size of accessory buildings like garages, and workshops so that they may incorporate an SDU.

The CSRD has also made it clear that SDUs will not be allowed to be used as short-term vacation rentals. For more information or to contribute to the survey, visit and look for the section Secondary Dwelling Units.