Second Suites: Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are second suites?
Second Suites are second dwelling units located on one property typically found in basements of single dwelling units. A Second Suite can also be located in detached garages that have been converted into a dwelling unit.
2. Why is the City permitting them?
The Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act requires that municipalities across Ontario amend their planning documents to facilitate the creation of second suites. Second suites provide a form of affordable housing and help owners defray the cost of home ownership.
3. Why not in the Georgian College area?
The City of Barrie has an Incentive program to help facilitate purpose built student housing in the Georgian College area specifically to mitigate the impact of students in established neighborhoods and to ensure that dedicated student housing is provided which is safe, clean and properly administered by a property management specialist. Allowing second suites would undermine these efforts and exacerbate the existing issues in the area.
4. What are the benefits of second suites?
Second suites provide a form of affordable housing which is relatively simple to implement. Second suites will assist the City in increasing the vacancy rate to healthy standard while providing individuals defray the cost of home ownership.
5. What does “grandfathering” mean and how can I find out if my property is grandfathered?
Grandfathering is a term used to allow for uses to exist without meeting all or some of the bylaw standards and provisions.
To find out if your property is grandfathered, legal proof will have to be provided to Planning Services indicating the date the subject property contained a second dwelling unit (Second Suite).
6. How are second suites enforced?
Generally second suites are enforced upon receipt of a complaint however pending the availability of staff resources; staff will also review rental advertisements both online and in printed media format.
7. I’m a landlord, what are my responsibilities?
Compliance with the City of Barrie’s Zoning By-law regulations (barrie.ca/bylaws). Please also refer to the Property Standards for Renters & Tenants.
8. How do I upgrade an existing second suite?
Apply for a building permit and have a qualified person evaluate the:
Detection and alarm systems for early warning
Escape and means of egress for exiting
Fire containment for fire separations between suites
9. When do I need a building permit?
A building permit is required when there is a Change of Use (adding suite) OR any construction that affects:
Detection and alarm systems
Affecting means of egress
Affecting fire separations, or
Adding/changing plumbing systems
10. How do I obtain the building permit?
Note: a Zoning Certificate required prior to or at building permit submission (please refer to question 12). a. Apply in person on the 8th Floor of City Hall located at 70 Collier St
b. Download application via barrie.ca/BuildingPermits
11. What are the building code requirements?
The Building Code provides two different scenarios depending on when your home was constructed. Part 9 of the Building Code applies to new construction, including new dwelling units containing a Second Residential Unit. Part 9 also applies to an addition to your home that is intended to accommodate all or a portion of a proposed Second Residential Unit. If your home is greater than five years old, acceptable alternative design standards are provided within Part 11 of the Building Code. The following tables outline some of the requirements of the Building Code as they relate to Second Residential Units. Alternative Part 11 standards are noted where applicable. All relevant sections of the Building Code apply and in the case of a discrepancy between the tables below and the original text of the Building Code, the Building Code shall apply.
12. What are the steps involved with getting approval?
Step 1: Obtain a Zoning Compliance Certificate
A Zoning Compliance Certificate confirms the second suite is a permitted use and the use complies with zoning standards. The certificate can be obtained from Planning Services:
Planning Services Department City Hall, 1st Floor 70 Collier Street Barrie, ON L4M 4T5 Phone: (705) 739-4208 • Fax: (705) 739-4270 • firstname.lastname@example.org Hours: 8:30am–4:30pm, Monday–Friday
Step 2: Obtain a Building Permit or Change of Use Permit
A Building Permit or Change of Use Permit can be obtained from Building Services and confirms compliance with:
Fire prevention via electrical safety inspection
Fire detection and alarm system for early warning
Fire escape for exiting
Fire containment with rated fire separation between units
Download application via barrie.ca/BuildingPermits or contact:
Building Services Department 70 Collier Street, P.O. Box 400, Barrie, ON L4M 4T5 Phone: (705) 739-4212 • Fax: (705) 739-4240 • email@example.com Hours: 8:30am–4:30pm, Monday–Friday
If the second suite was created prior to 1996:
Section 9.8 of the Ontario Fire Code sets construction standards.
Barrie Fire & Emergency Service will conduct an inspection and confirm as-built compliance.
Any deficiencies involving construction will require a Building Permit.
If the second suite was created after 1996 and the area is already finished space:
A qualified person must evaluate the existing construction for compliance with Part 10 of the Building Code.
The compliance report noting all necessary upgrades must be submitted with an application for a Change of Use Permit.
When a permit is issued, upgrades, if required, must be completed and inspected.
If the second suite does not yet exist and the space is unfinished:
A qualified person must design the required construction for compliance with Part 9 of the Building Code.
The construction plans must be submitted with an application for a Building Permit.
When the permit is issued, construction can commence.
Inspections are required at specified stages of construction.
Step 3: Obtain a Registration Certificate from By-law Services
Registration Certificates can be obtained from By-law Services upon completion of steps 1 & 2:
By-law Services 45 Cedar Pointe Drive Phone: (705) 739-4241 • Fax: (705) 739-4279 Hours: 8:30am–4:30pm, Monday–Friday
13. What will this cost?
The fees are primarily determined by the age of the second suite and dependent on what inspections will be necessary: currently the registration fee is $215.00 (additional inspection fees may be applicable). The cost of submitting an application to the Planning Services Department for a Zoning Certificate is $135.00, additional fees may be applicable. The Fire Code inspection fee, as set out by the City of Barrie Fee By-Law which covers your initial inspection and one re-inspection should there be deficiencies that need to be brought into compliance. If additional re-inspections are required to bring the property into compliance the general fire inspection fee will apply. Fees are billed to the applicant and payment is required upon receipt of an invoice. Units created within the recent two year period under a building permit do not need a Fire Code inspection. A Change of Use Permit with construction will cost $9.30/m2 with a minimum fee of $155.00. A Change of Use Permit without construction will cost $2.80/m2 with a minimum fee of $155.00. Fee covers the cost of Building Inspections. The Property Standards inspection fee of $291.00 as set out in the City of Barrie Fee By-Law covers the cost of your initial inspection and follow-up inspection(s) to a maximum of two (2) working hours. Units created within the recent two year period under a building permit do not need a Property Standards inspection. Development Charges, Education Levies and/or Parkland Contribution may also be applicable. For confirmation, please contact the Finance Department located on the first floor of City Hall or at 705-739-4220, ext. 5158.