Andre Chabot: In the short term, we need to continue to move forward with the plan that we have on our infrastructure plans. Obviously, we can’t change things. We have a four-year business plan and changing it in the middle of it is virtually impossible. We need to look at other orders of government from a funding perspective, but right now, we’ve become too reliant on property taxes for capital infrastructure projects . . . I am pro-development, whether that’s inner city or greenfield. We need to facilitate the process to streamline the approvals process in both greenfield and existing, developed communities.
CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?
Andre Chabot: I don’t think this is a good idea. It will only add costs to the end product. So, I’m not at all in favour of that.
CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?
Andre Chabot: As far as making it mandatory for energy efficient homes . . . we should have uniform classification, so that regardless of who is building it, what kind of product you’re building, it’s easily identifiable as to what level you’ve achieved.
CREB®Now: What is your preferred approach to the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?
Andre Chabot: If we’re looking at affordable housing from the perspective of income support or rent geared to income, we need to do a better job of working with the provincial government and the school boards. We have a lot of vacant land in the inner city. Undeveloped, vacant lands that were originally destined to be for school sites could be developed with the private sector. Have the City contribute the lands as their matching contribution and get the private sector to actually build market housing, as well as non-market housing.
CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects or improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?
Andre Chabot: One of the things that’s lacking in the Municipal Development Plan is how to respond to existing built form. What I mean by that is that there’s a lot of communities that were built as monolithic-type communities – single-purpose communities with only one housing type within those communities. We have other areas in the city that are predominantly employment. That’s actually created a mobility challenge for our city, and the Municipal Development Plan doesn’t properly address that.
CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process? How could it be improved?
Andre Chabot: To make it efficient and to ensure that illegal suites are brought into compliance you need a mechanism to gain entry. I’ve already proposed this to council, and that is to introduce a requirement for you to be registered on the City of Calgary’s suite registry. Any suite that goes through an approvals process for a development permit or building permit, regardless of land use, if they get approval, they automatically go on the suite registry. If you’re not on the suite registry, then you’re not legal.
CREB®Now: With federal legalization of marijuana on the horizon, some homeowners have concerns with the location of potential retailers and with other Calgarians growing marijuana in their homes. How would you manage these concerns?
Andre Chabot: It’s outside of our control, obviously, including the number of plants that can be grown in each individual home. I have been at the table on a number of different bodies to advocate for a reduced or minimized number of plants that individual residents can grow. So far, all the discussions have been around how many plants you can grow indoors . . . As far as dispensaries are concerned, certainly it’s within the control of the City to legislate specific dispensaries or land use for that purpose. It should follow a process similar to what there is now for alcohol, whether that be a unique dispensary just dedicated to marijuana or joint with alcohol. There are arguments against a joint facility, but I would be supportive of the province making it a requirement for you to only dispense one product or the other and facilitating through land use that we have control of.
CREB®Now: Can you elaborate on your preferred location for a new Calgary Flames arena and how you would propose the City develop the surrounding area to best meet the needs of Calgarians?
Andre Chabot: Obviously, for a major draw like an arena – a major facility like that – you want to put it in close proximity to hotels, other amenities, restaurants, bars and that sort of thing, so that some of the spin-off business can actually go to the local businesses. So, downtown Victoria Park I think is a good location for it. The proposal the City put forward was a reasonable offer. I don’t think it should have been viewed as a final offer. There’s certainly an opportunity with Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation to come up with a solution. Alternatively, if we can’t come to a solution, we might want to look to the private sector to look at a P3 model, whereby the private sector can be included in the ownership and oversight on the management of that facility and look at different tenants that could potentially occupy the building, whether that be a large majority of the time or just part of the time, and sharing in some of that revenue. That might be an option. I’m committed to finding a deal – a solution – to make sure that a rink does get built in this city and that we do keep the Flames, we do keep that opportunity and we have that opportunity with a new facility for new concerts. Job creation, job creation.