Calgary’s secondary suite saga continues

When it comes to Calgary City Council, a tie on a specific vote equals defeat.

At a Sept. 10 Standing Policy Committee meeting, a proposal by city planners looking to streamline Calgary’s secondary suite approval process was voted down 4-4.

“First thing, I want to make a point of is enforcement is not a housing policy,” said the City’s General Manager Rollin Stanley. “If a person remains homeless, we fail as a city. If a suite is made safe, we succeed.”

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Stanley presented council with a presentation on secondary suites making the suggestion suites could be based on a matrix system including secondary suites, above grade suites and detached suites.

“There’s been some talk about not legalizing any aspects of secondary suites until we make them legal first,” he said. “It’s important to remember our current policy is in fact driving suites underground, it is adding to our housing problem. It is not creating legal suites and it is not making suites safe.”

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While councillors like Druh Farrell have long been in favour of secondary suites to provide more homes for Calgarians, Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart recently changed her point of view from against to for.

“More and more you’re seeing this migration of people,” she said. “If they can’t find a place in Calgary to live, they’re migrating out to the surrounding municipalities and the other small towns right? So then we’re losing the tax base and that’s not very smart of us to do.

“More and more I’ve been hearing about the affordability with seniors for example and we have an ageing population and they want to stay in their homes as long as they can. However, their house rich and cash poor because they’re on a limited fixed income, the cost of living is continuing to escalate for seniors so they want an option so they can have a secondary suite in their house to sort of subsidize their income so there’s just a multitude of these factors in my view that are starting to really come together and rather than just saying no, no, no outright.”

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