Review of Secondary Suites, Rooming Houses and Short-Term Accommodations

Phase 3A Project Status                                 Completed and endorsed by Council May 2018

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 AirBnB 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 remainder of the new zoning by-law, and directed staff to begin a portion of Phase 3 to review secondary suites, rooming houses and short-term accommodations.

In March 2016, Gladki Planning Associates was retained by the City to complete work on this pahse of the project, dubbed “Phase 3A”, which is targeted for completion by the end of 2017.

To date, preliminary recommendations have been prepared and presented to Development Services Committee, through reports available below.  An Open House was held on October 16, 2016 on the matter, to receive public input and comment.  A Statutory Public Meeting was held on December 6, 2016, which provided additional opportunity for public input and comment.  After this meeting, Council referred the matter back to staff for additional review and recommendations.

In June 2017, Staff reported back to Council on the matter of Secondary Suites, with the following recommendations:

  • that a zoning by-law be introduced to permit secondary suites city-wide in single detached, semi-detached and rowhouse dwellings
  • that a by-law be introduced to require registration of all dwellings with secondary suites to ensure safety of occupants and compliance with applicable codes and requirements
  • that the current property standards by-law be updated to include requirements for interior property standards
  • that a communications and public education plan be implemented upon approval of the by-law, to communicate by-law requirements and to encourage registration
  • that a 6-month monitoring program be implemented upon approval of the by-law to track and evaluate the registration process including matters such as applications, inspections and complaints

An additional Public Meeting was held on October 3, 2017 with respect to proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments for Rooming Houses and Short-Term Accommodations.   The resolution from the Development Services Committee at the public meeting was to refer the amendments back to staff for a comprehensive interim report.  This report is targeted for February 26, 2018.  A special evening Development Services Committee meeting has also been targeted for March 27, 2018 followed by a final recommendation report in May 2018.

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.
Secondary Suites Explained

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.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | 7PM — Public Meeting
Markham Civic Centre, Council Chambers
101 Town Centre Boulevard

This Statutory Public Meeting is required to discuss Rooming Houses and Short-Term Accommodations.  A Statutory Public Meeting for Secondary Suites was held in 2016.

February 2018 (Date to be determined) — Special Development Services Committee Meeting 
Markham Civic Centre, Council Chambers 
101 Town Centre Boulevard

A report on Secondary Suites, Rooming Houses and Short-Term Accommodations will be presented to a special evening Development Services Committee meeting in February 2018. Details of this meeting will be provided once a date has been determined. In this report, staff and the consultant will be providing their final recommendations for Council’s consideration.


  • Attend an open house or public meeting (dates above)
  • Sign up for our email list to receive notice of all upcoming meetings.
  • Send an email to

Reports & Documents

  • Information Memo - Update on Phase 3A and Next Steps, November 21, 2016
  • Information Report- Preliminary Recommendations: Rooming Houses and Short Term Accommodations, September 19, 2016
  • Presentation - Second Suites (Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing), September 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 Past Public Meetings & Open Houses

DSC Meetings

March 2018

Item 1: Report, Presentation and Minutes

May 2018

Item 3: Report, Presentation and Minutes

Council Meeting:

May 2018

Item 7(A)(4): Report, Presentation and Decision

Complementary Content