Accessory Suites

Cochrane’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) identifies the importance of providing a range of housing options for all ages and income levels. To help provide options, the Town allows for accessory suites and garden suites as discretionary uses in certain residential districts. Accessory suites and garden suites are approved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Accessory suites are located within the principal dwelling (the home) most commonly in the basement.

Garden suites are located on the same property as the home but are a separate dwelling unit located in the rear yard and are physically separated from the main house. They can either be their own building located at grade (on the ground) or above an accessory building (garage).

Accessory Suite and Garden Suite Regulations

  • A maximum of one accessory suite or garden suite is allowed on a property.
  • Must provide two parking stalls for the principal dwelling and one parking stall per bedroom in the proposed suite on the property. Street parking is not considered.
  • Properties that are 9.0m in width or less can only have one (1) tandem parking stall. Tandem parking is when one parking stall is located behind another.
  • For properties wider than 9.0m a maximum of two tandem parking stalls is allowed
  • The suite must not exceed 40% of the gross floor area of the house but must be a minimum of 30m2.
  • A garden suite shall be:
    • No larger than 80m2
    • Max height allowed depends on type of garden suite and height of the house
    • Refer to the Land Use Bylaw for setback requirements.
  • The cumulative impact of nearby approved suites, home based businesses and bed and breakfasts will be considered. Impacts may include: the capacity of utility services, traffic generation, capacity of existing road network and parking congestion.

Thinking about building an accessory or garden suite?
Step 1: discuss your proposal with Planning staff as soon as possible. We can provide early guidance, describe the process and ensure you are headed in the right direction.

Step 2: fill out a Development Permit Application

Tip: use the Accessory Suite Checklist to make sure you have everything you need.

Step 3: apply for a building permit and, if applicable, electrical, plumbing and gas permits (after the Notice of Decision is issued).

What happens next?

Once we receive your Development Permit application for an accessory or garden suite, Town staff will complete a review to determine if the application has all the required information and then will be circulated to various Town departments and outside agencies for comment. We’ll let you know if there are any comments or concerns so you can address them.

The application can then be decided on by a Development Officer (Administration). Applications with a variance over 10% go to the Cochrane Planning Commission (CPC) for a decision which meets on the third Wednesday of each month. 

The decision made is advertised to adjacent landowners and published in the newspaper to allow opportunity for an appeal.


The decision made may be appealed to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. To appeal, complete and submit a Notice of Appeal form within 21 days of the Notice of Decision appearing in the local newspaper.


Once all the conditions of the development permit and building permit have been satisfied, your accessory suite is ready for occupancy!