When it comes to the issue of secondary suites it needs to be recognized that there are two very distinct mindsets. It must also be stated that each view point has its own merits and that both need to be respected. However, that being said, these divergent viewpoints have been debated ad nauseam over the last decade and so a continued debate will not be the focus of my messaging today. Instead I would like to discuss the notion that City Council needs to allow Calgarians the opportunity to have their final say on secondary suites and then we must use that information to move forward.
On Tuesday September 22nd the secondary suite issue will be brought before Council for the 30th time. This tells me two things. First, stakeholders, regardless of their stance, believe this to be an incredibly important issue. Second, we need to find a way to end this debate once and for all. I would like to see this accomplished by meaningful public engagement. I want to take this issue out to the people in a manner that allows everyone to officially state their level of support for secondary suites. Then I would like to use that voice to guide our actions in either adopting a secondary suite policy or move away from it.
Yes, this is a complex issue, but we already know and understand the points of argument. What we do not have is a definitive answer from the public to whether they want secondary suites or not. At this point my question is why have we not just formally asked the public? I realize some believe this type of public engagement to be a costly endeavour. However, it is also costly to have the issue brought before Council 30 times without resolution. And, contrary to popular belief, Twitter or isolated forums do not constitute meaningful public engagement. Clearly, this issue deserves more. Why not utilize our existing resources, such as our network of Community Associations and host formal town hall meetings, or conduct a plebiscite and be done with this issue?
In my office, and out on the door steps of my constituent’s homes, I am hearing support for both sides of the equation and both groups stating that they have the numbers to support their viewpoint. So, if that is the case, then let’s take this to the people. Why not? At least that way, whichever way the vote turns out, we can finally say that this is what the majority of Calgarians want. Now, for me, if the engagement is done properly and Calgarians vote in favour of secondary suites then I will support that decision. Conversely, if Calgarians tell us that this is not something that they want then I will support that opinion as well. We are simply at the point where Council needs to take appropriate action to resolve this issue. In my mind that is leadership on this issue.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.