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Following is some helpful information about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs):

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a second, smaller dwelling unit or an extension to an existing home, with a separate entrance, kitchen, bathroom and living room. It can be a detached structure or above a garage. ADUs are often used to house family, local workers, caregivers and renters in need of smaller homes, like single or couples.
There is a long history of ADUs (commonly known as suites and cottages) on Salt Spring, long before the land use regulations that outlawed them, as they housed essential workers that helped develop this island community. And all small and medium-sized communities in BA have ADUs. Currently, the Islands Trust permits secondary suites in selected zones and detached cottages on residential properties in a few zones, but most are not allowed due to the water moratorium. Nonetheless, hundreds of property owners have created ADUs on their property and are using them. The legislation currently in discussion would allow for ADUs in more places on our island.
The Local Trust Committee (LTC) of the Islands Trust will meet to discuss next steps in creating an effective bylaw. The Islands Trust will hold a public hearing to discuss this further, potentially revise further and then pass on their recommendations to their Executive Committee for approval. The approved bylaws then return to the LTC for adoption.
ADUs provide much-needed housing for our workforce, our seniors, and island children. Not everyone wants, needs or can afford a detached home. A 2022 Islands Trust survey among residents found that more than 80% indicated support of secondary suites and additional housing options such as ADUs. We need diverse housing options for our community.

Some people are concerned about overpopulation. This has not been the case in other small communities in BC that have legalized ADUs, where detached homes with ADUs account for less than 10% of the homes . While that kind of an increase would certainly have an impact on Salt Spring, we have a critical shortage of housing for the people we need to keep our businesses and medical facilities operating, and suites and cottages are one of the lowest-impact ways to supply that housing.

Some are concerned that water protections will not be in place to ensure conservation of our precious resource, but the good news is that we are already requiring a substantially higher water supply for residential properties than they typically use, so additional impact from suites and cottages is likely to be minimal. Having said that, we do need regulations to limit water use by everyone on the island to protect this resource for the future.

Some are worried that our sensitive ecosystems and natural spaces will be adversely impacted. If we agree we need more housing, ADUs require fewer resources to build than a detached home, and if they are attached to the main dwelling they tend to have lower operating and energy costs. They will have the same permit area guidelines as larger homes.

Members of some local indigenous bands share the above concerns as well as the much broader issue of their rights to the land. Meaningful consultation and true understanding is crucial to any action to solve the housing crisis that affects all of us. Discussions are currently in progress as part of the Islands Trust review of the bylaw.
This is a legitimate concern, and other localities have found good ways of ensuring the new suites and cottages serve community needs. One popular way is to tax the income from STVR’s at a substantially higher rate than long-term rentals. Another essential regulation is to ensure that all STVRs are required to get a business license to operate, which brings in further limits to where and how they can operate legally.
As we learn more about how ADUs are working in practice in our community, new necessary regulations will be required. The need is so great for housing here on Salt Spring that moving forward in creating housing options is urgent for our community. It will take a variety of solutions to begin solving this problem for Salt Spring, with ADUs being just one of them.