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Ward 8 News: The Future of Secondary Suites in Ward 8 - Info Sessions

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Ward 8 official website

If you have been following me at City Hall, you know that I have been working hard to increase the supply of affordable housing across Calgary.  Our city is experiencing unprecedented growth.  Last year 15,000 babies were born and 25,000 people moved here, making Calgary the fastest growing city in Canada. I don’t expect the current economic situation to significantly reduce the long-term demand for more affordable housing options in Calgary.


All these people need somewhere to live, and secondary suites are, in my view, one of the best tools that we have to accommodate our city’s growth.  Secondary suites aren’t going to house everyone, but they are a simple and market-based solution that makes living in Calgary safer and more affordable.  Each unit of affordable housing costs the City three hundred thousand dollars while secondary suites are paid for by the homeowner. Our current process around secondary suites isn’t working for people who want to build suites, or for neighbours who want more predictability in how suites are approved or denied.  We can, and must, do better.


Council has debated the topic many times over the last decade and the result has consistently been the same – dozens and dozens of reports, each one calling for suites to be permitted across more of the city.  Despite clear evidence that reform is needed, Council has continued to vote against any meaningful changes to its secondary suites process.  Change in our city can be uncomfortable for some, and I respect that. I will work to make sure the improved process works.


After a lot of hard work I am happy to announce that this spring a bylaw will come before Council that, if passed after thorough public consultation, will allow secondary suites to be permitted throughout four Calgary wards, including Ward 8.  This would be the biggest step forward on secondary suites in many years.


The City of Calgary is hosting a number of information sessions to answer any questions you have about what those changes would mean, and what the requirements will be to build a secondary suite if the bylaw passes. Below are the details:



The Alexandra Centre

922 9th Ave SE

Saturday, February 28th



Killarney Community Hall

2828 28th St SW (Ward 8)

Sunday, March 1st



Calgary Military Museum

4520 Crowchild Trail SW

Monday, March 2nd



Fort Calgary

750 9th Ave SE

Wednesday, March 4th



These sessions will have answers to common questions about secondary suites, specifically in regards to:

·         Parking

·         Traffic

·         Landlord/tenant issues

·         The requirements to build a suite


These info sessions will be a great chance to address the opportunities and perceived challenges.  I’ve addressed some common questions below.




Seniors and individuals on fixed income – We have seen an increasing number of applicants coming before Council for rezoning who are on a fixed income and see a secondary suite as a way for them to be able to stay in their neighbourhood.  Similarly, we’ve also seen more applications from families building a suite for their aging parents to live in.


Young families and first time buyers – The average cost of a home in Calgary is $450,000 and climbing.  It is even higher in our established Ward 8 neighbourhoods.  Young buyers cite cost as the top barrier to purchasing a new home.  A secondary suite provides a stable source of income to help first time buyers afford a mortgage, and contribute to the vibrancy of our communities.


New Calgarians and students – Calgary has the lowest vacancy rates and highest rental prices in the country.  In addition, last year we saw 25,000 people move to Calgary.  Suites can provide housing options around post-secondary institutions and in popular established neighbourhoods to ensure those new Calgarians can find somewhere to live.  When suites aren’t permitted in an area, they are currently being built illegally.  Illegal suites don’t follow health or safety regulations.  Permitting suites will make it safer for people who are already moving into our neighbourhoods.


A more predictable process – Currently different zoning bylaws mean the process for approving secondary suites is different between neighbourhoods.  With consistent zoning the process will be more predictable and straight forward for applicants and their neighbours.


Perceived Challenges:


Parking – In Calgary there is no limit to the number of cars that can park at any house, be it rental or owner-occupied.  Rental units typically have a lower occupancy rate than an owner-occupied detached house.  However, to ensure parking isn’t an issue, the bylaws will require secondary suites to provide off-street parking.  This is a concern that, with all other types of land use, is dealt with at the development permit stage.


Maintaining R-1 neighbourhoods – Zoning defines the housing form, not the tenants within.  Residents with R-1 zoning will keep their R-1 zoning. Secondary suites will be approved on a case-by-case basis just as they are now, except that City Administration will review applications instead of City Council.


Tenant/landlord maintenance issues – The City is currently reviewing the Community Service Bylaw, which deals with enforcement of poorly maintained properties.  These enforcement bylaws are a more appropriate avenue than zoning to deal with the challenges that a fractional proportion of renters, landlords and homeowners create, rather than permitted zoning.


Change to neighbourhoods – Based on uptake in areas that currently allow for suites, uptake will be roughly one suite every two blocks.  Allowing accessory units increase the value of a home while maintaining the character of the neighbourhood.


See you there!


The info sessions will give more in-depth answers to these questions, and any others you have.  You can attend any of the four info sessions, which are spread through the four wards that the bylaws will affect.  I will be at the session in Ward 8, at Killarney Community Hall on March 1, from 3-6pm, and I look forward to chatting with you about secondary suites. 


Later this week I will be posting some additional information specific to the new bylaw for the four wards. If you have further questions about affordable housing and secondary suites in Calgary, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Hope to see you March 1.






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.

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