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Second Suites & Detached Accessory Dwelling Units

This page includes information about additional residential units: second suites and detached accessory dwelling units.

Update to Second Suites & Detached Access​ory Dwelling Units​

On October 4, 2021 City Council adopted two by-laws to amend Zoning By-law 2009-141. These amendments affect the process for building second suites and detached accessory dwelling units in Barrie. See Zoning By-law Updates for Affordable Housing for details.

Building a Second Suite or Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit

Building permits give legal permission to begin construction, subject to other required municipal approvals. See Building a Second Suite or Building a Secondary Dwelling.

If the property is in a site plan control area, you may require site plan approval prior to applying for a building permit for a second suite. 

Scoped Site Plan Approval

Following Council approval on October 4, 2021, including the passing of an updated Site Plan Control By-law, detached accessory dwelling units in all residential zones are now subject to scoped site plan approval. More information on the scoped site plan process is coming soon. ​

If you are interested in applying for a detached accessory dwelling unit in the interim, please contact Shelby.White@barrie.ca​.

Registering a Second Suite

​The City's Second Suite Registration By-law requires all second suites and detached accessory dwelling units to be registered with the City. ​​This ensures all relevant agencies and City departments, including Barrie Fire and Emergency Service​, are aware of the additional units on the property.

View all registered second suites in Barrie via Discover Barrie's Planning and Development map. If you note a second suite or detached accessory dwelling unit that is not registered, please contact Service Barrie at 705-726-4242 or Service.Barrie@barrie.ca.

How to Register a Second Suite or Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit 
New Second Suites or Detached Accessory Dwelling Units

Registration of all new second ​suites or detached accessory dwelling units is automatically included in the Building Permit or Change of use Permit Process. Related pages:

Second Suites Created Before July 14, 1994

​To register a second suite that meets requirements for "grandfathering" under the Residents' Rights Act, 1994 (Bill 120 and O.Reg 384/94) please submit a completed Application to Register a Second Suite to Development Services.

  • The registration process will include inspections by Property Standards and the Fire Department to ensure the units are safe.
  • If any deficiencies are found in these inspections, a Building Permit may be needed to complete any work required.​​
Once the units have successfully passed all inspections it will be registered.

To check whether a second suite was legally created and is already registered, please see the Planning & Development   registered second suites tab on Discover Barrie's Planning and Development map. 

If you note a two-unit property that is not registered, please contact Development Services via Service Barrie, 705-726-4242 or Service.Barrie@barrie.ca.​


About Additional Residential Units

Ontario's Planning Act requires municipalities ​to authorize the creation of additional residential units by allowing:

  • ​​​The use of two residential units in a detached house, semi-detached house, or row townhouse; and
  • ​​The use of a residential unit in a building or structure accessory to one of the above housing types.

The City's Comprehensive Zoning By-law allows the creation of two types of additional residential units, subject to meeting applicable zoning requirements: second suites and detached accessory dwelling units.

A property can contain a maximum of one second suite inside a dwelling and one detached accessory dwelling unit, provided all zoning requirements can be met. Additional residential units may be exempt from Development Charges.

Second Suites 
Definition   

Second Suite: An accessory dwelling unit that is within a single detached dwelling, semi-detached dwelling unit, or street townhouse dwelling unit, and is subordinate to the principal unit. ​

A second suite is a self-contained unit with a kitchen, bathroom, living area and sleeping area within the primary house on a property. The suite may be added to an existing house, or purpose-built in a new home, provided all applicable standards can be met.

Examples:

  • Basement apartments
  • Apartments at grade or on upper levels of existing homes
  • Apartments above attached garages
  • Conversion of space within an existing house
  • Additions to existing homes
Zoning Design Standards

A maximum of one second suite is permitted per lot. The Zoning By-law standards for second suites in Section 5.2.9 were recently updated and include:

  • May occupy up to 45% of the gross floor area (GFA) of the principal building it is located within, except where a second suite is located in the basement of a one-storey (bungalow) dwelling, in which case it can occupy the whole basement
  • Must provide one parking space per dwelling unit (one for the main dwelling, one for the second suite)
  • A 1.2 metre-wide unobstructed path of travel must be provided to the main entrance from the street, driveway or parking area
  • Second suites are not permitted within any area subject to natural hazards such as a flooding or erosion hazard

​Please see By-law 2021-085 for full requirements.

Building Code Standards

Compliance with the Ontario Building Code is required. If you are thinking of constructing a second suite in your home, please refer to Building a Second Suite.

Legalizing an Existing Second Suite

Second suites that meet ALL of the following requirements may be eligible for “grandfathering" under the Residents' Rights Act, 1994 (Bill 120 and O.Reg 384/94):

  • Second suite was created and used or occupied before July 14, 1994;
  • Second suite has been in continuous use ever since; and
  • Owner has legal proof, through an affidavit and supporting documentation, demonstrating the above.

If you meet the above criteria, please contact Development Services (Planning) for more details at  PlannerOfTheDay@barrie.ca

All other existing second suites that were created without a Building Permit or a Change of Use Permit must meet the current Zoning By-law and Ontario Building Code standards.​

Detached Accessory Dwelling Units
Definition

Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit: Shall mean an accessory dwelling unit that is located within a detached accessory building on the same lot as a single detached dwelling, semi-detached dwelling unit, duplex dwelling or street townhouse dwelling unit, and is subordinate to the principal unit.

Examples:

  • Backyard tiny homes
  • Permanent garden suites or granny flats
  • Laneway houses
  • Coach houses
  • Other standalone secondary dwellings that are smaller than the main dwelling
  • Dwelling units attached to accessory buildings/structures, such as detached garages or sheds

A detached accessory dwelling unit can only contain one residential dwelling unit.

Zoning Design Standards

A maximum of one detached accessory dwelling unit is permitted per lot. The Zoning By-law standards for detached accessory dwelling units (Section 5.2.9) were recently updated and include:

  • May only contain one dwelling unit and is not permitted to have a basement
  • May be a standalone accessory building or located within, or attached to, another detached accessory building or structure.
  • Must have a maximum gross floor area (GFA) equal to 45% of the GFA of the principal building, up to a maximum of 75 m2​.
  • Must provide one parking space per dwelling unit (i.e. one for main dwelling, one for the second suite)
  • Must be in the rear yar and meet the following minimum yard setbacks:
    • Front yard: 7.0 metres
    • Side yard: 3.0 metres
    • Rear yard: 7.0 metres
  • Must not exceed a height of 4.5 m (measured from average finished grade to the highest point of a flat roof, deck line of a mansard roof, and midpoint between the ease and ridge for all other styles)
  • Must provide a 3.0 metre landscaped buffer area along the rear and interior side lot lines adjacent to the detached accessory dwelling unit
  • A 1.2 metre-wide unobstructed path of travel must be provided to the main entrance from the street, driveway or parking area
  • The primary entrance to the unit shall be a maximum of 40.0 metres from the front lot line
  • Must be connected to full municipal services
  • All accessory buildings and structures, including detached accessory dwelling units, must not exceed 10% lot coverage in total
  • Detached accessory dwelling units are not permitted within any area subject to natural hazards such as a flooding or erosion hazard​
​Please see By-law 2021-085 for full requirements.

Building Code Standards

Compliance with the Ontario Building Code is required. If you are thinking of constructing a secondary dwelling, please refer to Building a Secondary Dwelling.

Legalizing a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit

Detached Accessory Dwelling Units that were created without a Building Permit or a Change of Use Permit must meet today's Zoning By-law and Ontario Building Code standards.​ Please email PlannerOfTheDay@barrie.ca with any specific questions regarding your property.

Affordability

Living in a second suite or detached accessory dwelling unit can be an attractive and affordable housing​ option for many residents. The More Homes, More Choices Act, 2019 required that municipalities across Ontario amend their planning documents to facilitate the creation of additional residential units in existing homes and accessory structures. This is a form of affordable housing that is relatively simple to implement and assists the City in increasing the vacancy rate to a healthy standard while helping owners defray the cost of home ownership. 

The County of Simcoe Secondary Suites Program provides funding of up to $30,000 per unit for the creation of an affordable secondary suite or detached accessory dwelling unit. For more details or to apply, please contact the County of Simcoe Social Housing Department. ​











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