These suites were built legally at the time
of construction however; they do not meet the present day
rules. These are usually the result of the land use (zoning)
being changed or the rules being changed. This term is often
referred to as “legal” non-conforming because they are
considered to be legal. This status may be lost if a
building is destroyed or damaged to more then 75% of its
value or if the use is discontinued for more than 6 months.
The bylaws controlling private property have
changed over the years. These changes have also included
changes to the rules and definitions.
Without getting into a long involved legal
discussion it is best to simplify the changes that have
occurred and the way the City of Calgary enforces the rules:
1983 to present
The current bylaws (Calgary Land Use Bylaw
2P80) say that a kitchen (cooking facilities as above, and
also sinks, lower cabinets and counter tops) is not allowed
in a basement suite.
There are many ways you can determine the age
of a suite such as contacting previous owners; interviewing
neighbors; judging the age of fixtures, moldings, cabinets,
The City of Calgary responds to complaints
about illegal suites and inspects these properties to see if
there is a violation of the Land Use Bylaw. Our Development
Field Technicians, through their investigations, determine
the date of construction and apply the rules as listed
above. If a violation is found, the property owners are
required to remove either the full kitchen or just the
cooking facilities. If the owners fail to comply, legal
action is taken against them.
The City of Calgary will not inspect
properties for the benefit of lawyers, realtors, or
perspective buyers to determine the legal status of a suite,
nor will the City give a “letter of comfort” for this
A common misunderstanding occurs with R-2
properties. In order for two suites to exist, the rule
states that the property must have a minimum 15-metre
frontage AND 466 Sq Meters of lot area.
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