On June 29th Council voted against a proposal to simplify secondary suite approvals in Wards 7, 8, 9, and 11. The proposal was offered as a compromise to a stalemated Council - a solution to a process that the majority of Councillors agree is broken. As a councillor who has long advocated for safe, affordable housing for all Calgarians, as well as housing choice, I am disappointed with this outcome.
City Council has a responsibility to represent all Calgarians regardless of income or whether they rent or own property. I take this responsibility seriously. We have an affordable housing crisis, and secondary suites are a market-based solution proven to increase the number of safe rental units, along with other benefits that include providing for a live-in caregiver for seniors, allowing seniors to age-in-place, and helping with mortgage payments for a first-time homebuyer.
Suites are permitted in nearly every other Canadian city, large and small, including our neighbours Edmonton and Lethbridge. Many cities actively encourage the development of suites, and provide grant programs to convert illegal suites into safe, regulated suites. As the waiting lists for affordable housing grow, and the costs to taxpayers increase ($300k per door to build an affordable housing unit), the benefits become clear.
Until we resolve our affordable housing crisis, secondary suites will continue to be raised as part of the solution by business, community, and post-secondary leaders, as well as the large majority of Calgarians.
I would like to thank the Ward 7 residents, both for and against, who contacted my office. Unfortunately, Council’s inability to take meaningful action on this issue means that the problem of unsafe illegal suites, the affordable rental housing shortage, and the cumbersome regulatory process will persist. Despite this latest setback, I will continue to look for ways to increase the number of affordable housing units in Calgary. I encourage and welcome your ideas, and ideas from my Council colleagues, on how we can solve the problem together.
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.