Council Still Can't Solve Suites

I was pleased to chat with Danielle Smith today about council's latest attempt to resolve the Secondary Suite impasse. You can listen to the full interview here, starting at July 26 at 9:49am. 

Council spends hours upon hours hearing suite applications one by one, wasting time for citizens and city staff alike. Yesterday Councillor Shane Keating proposed to streamline the process and legalize suites in a couple of zones radiating out from the city core. I applaud the councillor for trying. With reasonable councillors like him we can find a solution, even if yesterday's proposal missed on two key points.

 

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One, it divided communities. For example, the Triwood communities would be subject to different rules depending on which side of Northmount Drive you live on. Suites would be a legal (discretionary) use on the south side of the street, while literally across the street on the north side the current inefficient process would remain.

Two, this proposal would not have addressed some 85% of suite applications. Increasingly requests are coming from communities further away from the core. For example, of the 26 applications council reviewed on April 11, only *4* would have fallen within the central zones. In September another 39 or so applications will come to council. 75% of these would fall outside the proposed zones.

I agree with Danielle Smith. Even with its current dysfunctional process, council still approves over 80% of all suite applications across the city. Let’s give our City Administration clear criteria, and let them deal with the vast majority of applications first - saving council hours in wasteful hearings. Unusual or problematic cases can be escalated to council if needed.

We need to make it work.

  • The latest census shows 20 to 24 year-olds are leaving Calgary. Along with good jobs, reasonably-priced housing matters for our students starting out in life.
  • Seniors want to age in place with dignity – often with other family members – and stay in their homes.
  • Homeowners are looking for ways to pay their mortgage in the face of rising unemployment and tough times.

Secondary Suites help address these issues. Nearly every other Canadian city has figured out a reasonable process to properly regulate and manage them. I’m confident that with the right people on council, Calgary can too.

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