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Edmonton testing out subdividing and selling backyard garden suites

WATCH ABOVE: If a pilot project is successful, homeowners in Edmonton could be allowed to sell off part of their property — as a subdivided garden suite. Kim Smith explains.

Homeowners in Edmonton might be allowed to build garden suites with the intention of subdividing and selling them off, if a pilot project is successful.

Three garden suites, one in the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood, one in Grovenor and one in Queen Mary Park, are part of the pilot program.

The suite in Queen Mary Park near 116 Street and 111 Avenue is about 80 per cent complete, before the property will be rezoned and subdivided. Homeowners Wendy and George Stalker intend on living in the suite and selling their home.

“We really like our neighbourhood and we wanted to look into downsizing.

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“When this flag-shaped lot project came up, we thought, ‘Why don’t we build it the way we like it and we live in it and sell the house?'” Wendy said.

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“If we sell the house then we’ll have enough money to last us until the end.”

The Stalkers are building a two-car garage with a 627-square-foot suite above. Their smaller home will be entirely self-contained with a bedroom, kitchen, and washer and dryer.

Once the lot is subdivided, the larger parcel resembles the shape of a flag.

“I love it. I think it’s wonderful. I think it gives people an opportunity to make a little extra money. They could chose to rent or they could sell it,” Wendy said.

“Maybe there are other people in the same position as us who would like to have a little extra money in retirement.”

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READ MORE: Developer tells Edmonton council why infill is so expensive 

Under current zoning bylaws, owners are allowed to have garden suites, but only to use as rental suites.

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The idea of the pilot project is that the garden suite is independent from the original house, with its own land title and utilities.

“The big difference is that you’re going to have someone living back there permanently as opposed to someone who’s coming and going,” Stuart Carlyle, a city planner working on the pilot project, said.

On Thursday, the city held an information session in Queen Mary Park for the public to ask questions about the new concept. An information session in Alberta Avenue was held last week.

“We’re getting generally some positive feedback. People are responding well to the idea of ownership of garden suites as opposed to renting,” Carlyle said.

“There’s been a little bit of concern about the general build of garden suites. But all those lots that we’re here to talk about already have that ability to build them, that’s already an allowable opportunity under the zoning bylaws.”

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If the pilot program is successful and the rezoning bylaws are changed, current garden suites could potentially be subdivided and sold.

“We hope things move pretty steadily so that we can report back to those who will ultimately make the decision as to whether or not this is something that’s appropriate to go city-wide. We’ll let the market play itself out,” Carlyle said.

The suite in the Alberta Avenue neighbourshood is complete and the one in Grovenor has yet to be built.