Secondary Suites




Planning Staff initiated a review of Secondary Suites policies in Foothills County in the Spring of 2023.

The current provisions for Secondary Suites have been in implementation for four years. It is time for the County to review the provisions, engage the residents, and see what is working, what is not working, and how we could do better. 

We conducted a Preliminary Hamlet Survey by direct mail-out to landowners within County hamlets in March 2023 to see if there was a desire for Secondary Suites in Hamlets of Foothills County.  The results of the preliminary hamlet survey can be found HERE.

Based on the feedback received from the preliminary hamlet survey, staff suggest that there is not sufficient support to allow for Secondary Suites in the Hamlets of Heritage Pointe and Priddis Greens. As such, we have not recommended allowing for Secondary Suites in these communities moving forward. 

In May, we proceeded with a series of Open Houses and a County wide survey to engage Foothills County residents and get feedback on what is currently working and what could be improved with Secondary Suites in Foothills County.  We asked about preferred types of suites, appropriate sizes for suites, and potential updated provisions to reduce challenges and improve implementation on both parcels within hamlets (excluding Heritage Pointe and Priddis Greens) as well as parcels outside of hamlet boundaries. The survey was available at the open houses as well as online for those who were unable to attend the Open Houses.

A copy of the Open House and follow-up summary of “What We Heard” can be found HERE.

Based on the feedback we have received; we are proceeding to a public hearing for draft land use bylaw amendments for Secondary Suites.  The public hearing is scheduled for November 15, 2023, at 1:30 PM in the Council Chambers, Administration Building. 

A complete copy of the public hearing advertisement is HERE.

The draft policy amendments can be found HERE.


We have taken the feedback from the County residents into consideration and drafted some amendments to the Land Use Bylaw policy for Secondary Suites.

Based on the feedback received from the Preliminary Hamlet Survey, staff suggest that there is not sufficient support to allow for Secondary Suites in the Hamlets of Heritage Pointe and Priddis Greens. As such, we have not recommended allowing for Secondary Suites in these communities moving forward. 

Having said that, we have drafted some amendments to the Land Use Bylaw policy for Secondary Suites for all areas of the County excluding the above noted two hamlet areas.

In general, we have proposed the following draft policy amendments to the Land Use Bylaw pertaining to Secondary Suites:

  • Allow Secondary Suites within Hamlet boundaries (except Heritage Pointe and Priddis Greens) and on parcels under 2 acres in size.
  • Allow for Secondary Suite, Detached (including accessory suites and stand-alone suites)
  • Increase maximum size for Secondary Suites
    • Secondary Suites, Principal - maximum 1,400 sq. ft
    • Secondary Suite, Detached, smaller than principal dwelling to a maximum of:
      • 1,400 sq. ft on parcels 1 acre and larger in size.
      • 1,000 sq. ft. on parcels less than 1 acre in size)
  • Removed the minimum size restriction for Secondary Suites (still must be able to meet Safety Code requirements).
  • Increase flexibility of size requirement pertaining to Secondary Suite, Principal within the basement of principal dwelling or above attached garage.
  • Add flexibility for mobile homes/manufactured homes to be used as Secondary Suites.
  • Add requirement when evaluating applications for consideration of architectural character of detached suites to ensure visual character is compatible with the principal dwelling and in keeping with the character of the area.
  • Removal of restrictions on bed and breakfast, tourist home-, and home-based businesses from a Secondary Suite.
  • Amended parking requirement from one on-site parking space per bedroom to one on-site parking space per suite.
  • Amend Dwelling Density in some land use districts to accommodate Secondary Suites.
  • Allow variances, for a two-year period from the date of approval of new policy amendments, for bringing existing suites in Hamlets and on parcels under 2 acres in size into compliance.

A complete copy of the draft policy amendments are attached with the advertisement HERE.

If you have questions please contact Coreena Carr by email at

Below is the proposed process and timeline for our review on Secondary Suites.




A series of three open houses were held throughout the County for review on the Secondary Suite policy.  The following open houses were held:

  • Tuesday, May 2, 2023, Dewinton Community Hall - 4 pm to 7 pm
  • Thursday, May 4, 2023, Priddis Community Hall - 4 pm to 7 pm

Tuesday, May 9, 2023, Foothills Administration Building Council Chambers - 4 pm to 7 pm

The Open houses were designed to provide County residents with information on:

  • Implementation of Secondary Suites in Foothills County since 2019.
  • Important requirements and how to apply for a Secondary Suite.
  • Current rules and regulations for Secondary Suites.
  • Changes being considered and policy review topics.
  • Benefits, challenges, and suggested solutions.
  • Preliminary Hamlet Survey results and considerations for Secondary Suites in Hamlets.
  • The policy review process and anticipated next steps.
  • How to provide feedback on our Secondary Suite policy review in Foothills County.

The number of residents in attendance at the open houses was very low (approximately 15 residents in total).

Surveys were available for completion at the open houses and residents that were unable to attend were encouraged to complete the online survey on the County website.  The online survey was available from May 2, 2023, and remained open for responses until the end of day May 23, 2023.  We received 106 completed surveys.

There were two separate surveys, one for residents within Hamlets, and one for residents living outside of Hamlet boundaries in Foothills County.

The survey questions were separated into four sections based on our policy review as follows:

  • Forms of Secondary Suites
  • Sizes of Secondary Suites
  • Where Secondary Suites are slowed in the County
  • Challenges and solutions

A copy of the Open House summary of “What We Heard” can be found HERE.


The County has created a Secondary Suite Registry that identifies all Secondary Suites that have received the appropriate approvals from the County. 

The registry includes all of the Secondary Suites in Foothills County that have completed the approval process and have been confirmed for occupancy.

This online registry allows all prospective tenants, landowners, realtors, and other interested parties to search permitted Secondary Suites located in the County. 

Access the registry

Some applications have been conditionally approved and are working towards final issuance of their Development Permit. 

Allowing for Secondary Suites on residential properties within Hamlet boundaries or in smaller parcel communities may be considered by Council in the future.

What is a secondary suite?

A Secondary Suite is a subordinate dwelling unit located on a parcel, in addition to the principal dwelling unit, which constitutes a self-contained living accommodation unit comprised of kitchen facilities, sleeping amenities, and washroom facilities consisting of a full bathroom including tub and/or shower fixture and has a separate entrance or includes a door which can be physically closed or locked off from the remainder of the principal dwelling.

Phase 1 of Secondary Suites - Bylaw 08/2019: Previous Updates

Foothills County Council has moved forward with Phase 1 of accommodating Secondary Suites in Foothills County after an extensive public engagement process.  Phase 1 explored Secondary Suites on Agricultural District, Agricultural Business District, and Country Residential District parcels outside of Hamlet Boundaries in the County.  We have developed Land Use Bylaw provisions in accordance with what we heard from the Phase 1 public engagement process. 

Exploring Secondary Suites on smaller parcels and parcels within Hamlet boundaries in Foothills County, may be considered in the future after additional public engagement.



Frequently Asked Questions