Photo courtesy of Jeff and Liz Courtney

 It seems some Calgarians are still struggling to have their proposed suites approved. However, in the nearby town of Cochrane, locals say the process “couldn’t have been easier.”

Jeff and Liz Courtney moved to Cochrane from Calgary two years ago with a plan to eventually develop a secondary suite in their house. “The main reason was to retire early,” Jeff says. “We both wanted to stop working and we knew that with the strong renter’s market, there was a good demand for rental suites in Cochrane,” says Jeff.

They started out the development process last year by attending a townhall meeting between landlords and tenants to discuss the rental market.

Jeff explains, “After we met with the planning folks and filled the papers, the town did the rest.”

The quick approval of their development plan was most likely because of the lack of suites throughout the town.

In Cochrane, there can be no more than 10 per cent of houses in a neighborhood containing a secondary suite. The Courtneys’ neighborhood of Riverview only had two other legal suites out of 300 houses total.

Photo courtesy of Jeff and Liz Courtney
Photo courtesy of Jeff and Liz Courtney

In Calgary, each neighborhood has to be approved for zoning on a case-by-case basis in order to develop a secondary suite.

Popular issues surrounding the development of secondary suites in Calgary are privacy, noise and parking.

Since the Courtneys’ developed a basement suite, privacy was not an issue for their neighbours. However, some did question how the noise level and the amount of parking spaces would be affected after suite had tenants had moved in.

Based on these issues, the neighbours could have filed an appeal against the development. But Jeff says the complaint would most likely not be acted upon unless their development put the number of suites in their neighborhood over the 10 per cent maximum.

Instead, Jeff discussed these issues with his neighbors personally; there was no need for a city-held hearing as often is the result with secondary suite disputes in Calgary.

The Courtneys spent just over $50,000 to develop their suite and they did most of the interior finishing work themselves.

Now they’re receiving $1,200 per month for the two-bedroom basement suite, which they rent to two female tenants. The couple has been traveling across Canada and the United States since August.

Jeff says, “We certainly knew having someone in the house while we were away would be good and having the rent money is a big help to our travel expenses.”