Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Secondary Suites in the Township of Langley

At yesterday afternoon's Township of Langley Council meeting, secondary suites were on the agenda. Like other municipalities in Metro Vancouver, the Township has a large quantity of illegal secondary suites. Illegal secondary suites are a drain on municipal resources because the owners of these suites do not pay for their fair share of municipal services. These costs are passed onto other ratepayers in the community. You might be paying for someone else's illegal suite. The Township is now looking at legalizing secondary suites. For new single-family houses, it wants to make sure that they are built "secondary suite ready" to comply with building codes for human health and safety. For existing single-family housing, it wants people to voluntarily bring their suites up to code and pass a building inspection. In addition, the Township would like to charge a $400 per year secondary suite fee to cover the cost of added municipal services for secondary suites. The Township would also to step up enforcement.

While I think the Township will be successful in getting new developments compliant, I think that the Township will have a hard time getting current owners of illegal secondary suites to comply as there is no incentive. If the Township wanted to do proactive secondary suite inspections, it would need secondary suite police which could get pricey. There are other ways that the Township could get people to comply with its proposed secondary suites requirements.

The Township should look at metering all municipally delivered water. The would make everyone pay for their fair share of water and sewer costs. This of course would be a multi-year project. More immediately,the Township could look at reducing the garbage collection limit from 2 cans to 1 can. Also, the Township could implement a parking permit zone system which gives out a set amount of parking pass to each house in certain parts of the municipality. If someone parks on-street without a permit after a certain amount of time, they could get fined or towed. If someone had a legal secondary suite, they would be allowed to get extra free parking and garbage collection passes.

By doing something similar to what I propose, the Township could incentivize people to legalize their secondary suites.


Anonymous said...

Tax grab, there is no other name for it. The Township of Langley benefits from all the tax revenue by people who spend money locally living in those suites. The property taxes in the township exceed and rival that of the City of Vancouver. As usual high property taxes and less service. They increase property tax every year without explanation. Open cheque book mentality at the taxpayers expense.

Anonymous said...

Taxes are already out of control in the Township. In the 6 years I've lived here, every year there's been a tax increase of 2-3 times the rate of inflation. Pointing out the councillors that this isn't sustainable falls on deaf ears. As you mention, using water meters and enforcing limits on the amount of garbage put out, would look after their purported reasons for wanting the secondary suite fees.