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Phase 3A - Review of Potential New Zoning and Licensing Regulations for Secondary Suites, Rooming Houses and Short-term Accommodations

During the Phase 1 Open Houses, Markham staff received feedback about student housing, short term residential rental accommodations (such as Air BnB), rooming houses and secondary suites.

Residents were concerned about Air BnB accommodations creating safety, noise and parking issues which could impact nearby properties. They were also concerned about secondary suites and rooming houses in Markham, and issues relating to occupant safety, burden on community services, housing for York University students, and the and enforcement of existing zoning and licensing by-laws.

Council felt that the concerns raised were urgent and required resolution prior to the completion of the draft New Comprehensive Zoning By-law (Phase 3B), targeted for the end of 2017 or early 2018. As a result, Council directed staff to begin a portion of Phase 3 to review potential new zoning and licensing regulations for secondary suites, rooming houses and short-term accommodations.

In March 2016, Gladki Planning Associates was retained by the City to complete work on Phase 3A, which is targeted for completion by the end of 2016 or early 2017. Public consultation for Phase 3A is targeted for fall 2016.

What is a Secondary Suite?

A secondary suite is a secondary, self-contained, residential dwelling unit located within a primary residential dwelling unit (or within structures accessory to a primary dwelling unit) that contain both kitchen and bathroom facilities.

Sample of a Secondary Suite (Source:


Sample Floor Plan for a Secondary Suite

Sample Floor Plan for a Secondary Suite

Background on Secondary Suites in Markham

The City is currently working on developing a strategy to permit secondary suites in Markham to ensure that they are safe and compatible with existing neighbourhoods.

The Planning Act requires municipalities to establish official plan policies and zoning by-law provisions allowing secondary suites in detached, semi–detached and row houses, and ancillary structures (like garages?). Markham’s new Official Plan states that it is the policy of Council to support the diversification of housing tenure by providing for the establishment of secondary suites within existing and new permitted dwellings.

Secondary suites are generally not permitted in Markham, except for those that were legally in existence prior to November 16, 1995. There some Markham zoning by-laws that permit secondary suites in certain circumstances, including the Markham Centre By-law (2004-196) and by-law 177-96 which permits accessory dwelling units in Cornell and Cathedral Town.

In Markham, houses that contain secondary suites must be registered as two unit dwellings with Markham Fire and Emergency Services. The secondary suites must comply with the Fire Code, Building Code and Zoning By-law in order to be registered. Prior to registering a secondary suite, a building permit or change of use permit is required.

Currently, the City has approximately 700 registered secondary suites. As of 2008 there were an estimated 2,500 secondary suites in Markham that were not registered. Today the number is likely greater. Suites that are not registered may not comply with the minimum level of life safety required under the Fire Code and Building Code.

Markham last considered a by-law to permit secondary suites in residential zones in 2009. The by-law was deferred indefinitely by Council.


Reports & Documents

  • Information Memo - Update on Phase 3A and Next Steps, November 21, 2016
  • Information Report- Preliminary Recommendations: Rooming Houses and Short Term Accommodations, Sept. 19, 2016
  • Presentation - Second Suites (Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing), Sept.2016
  • Memo - Authorization to hold a Public Open House on Rooming Houses and Short-Term Accommodations (Phase 3a - New Comprehensive Zoning By-law Project), July 2016
    • Appendix A - Rooming Houses: Preliminary Recommendations Report
    • Appendix B - Short Term Accommodations: Preliminary Recommendations Report
    • Appendix C - Presentation
  • Memo - Authorization to hold a Public Open House on Secondary Suites (Phase 3a - New Comprehensive Zoning By-law Project), July 2016
  • Information Report – Options for updating DSC and obtaining their feedback during Phase 3a (Review of potential new zoning and licensing regulations for rooming houses, secondary suites and short-term rental accommodations, May 2016
  • Information Report- Partial Advancement of Phase 3 of Markham’s New Comprehensive Zoning By-law Project & Proposed Sole Source of Consultants, PR 13 128340, March 2016

Phase 3A Open Houses

Open House #1 Presentation [PDF] - Tuesday, October 11 2016

  • New Comprehensive Zoning By-law Project (Secondary Suites, Rooming Houses & Short Term Accommodation)

Statutory Public Meeting Presentation [PDF] - Tuesday, December 6 2016

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