Update on the Housing Strategy
After three days and more than 160 speakers, Council approved Home is Here: The City of Calgary's Housing Strategy 2024-2030 to address the ongoing housing affordability crsis that Calgary faces.
Councillor Sharp was pleased to vote in favour of the strategy. It contains many important actions that will help increase access to housing and housing affordability in Calgary, including:
- Using City-owned land to support more non-market affordable housing
- Using City-owned land to establish two emergency shelters for famililes with children
- Exploring the creation of incentives for affordable secondary suite housing
- Support to help equity-deserving groups access housing
- Efforts to speed up the planing process
- Advocacy to the federal and provincial governments for additional support
Councillor Sharp remains concerned about the proposal for blanket rezoning. While this remains a part of the strategy, no final decision has been made: an extensive public engagement process is still required before Council makes a final decision.
Watch Councillor Sharp debate the housing strategy
Councillor Sharp knows many Calgarians are concerned about blanket rezoning: the proposed plan to re-designate all residential areas in Calgary to allow townhomes and rowhouses anywhere without an individual public hearing in front of Council.
Councillor Sharp presented the Community Development Committee with an amendment to remove blanket rezoning from the Housing Strategy. That amendment was defeated by the committee, and blanket rezoning remains part of the Strategy's proposed actions.
Earlier this month, Councillor Sharp proposed a Notice of Motion to speed up approval times for land use changes in the planning department, ensuring we can get more housing built while still giving Calgarians a chance to say on changes to their neighbourhood at an individual public hearing in front of City Council. Unfortunately, this Notice of Motion was also defeated at committee.
Councillor Sharp supports increasing density, but believes that every proposed land use change should have an individual public hearing with a chance for the public to have their say in front of their elected officials. She believes we can get more housing built by speeding up the process but maintaining the public hearing.
Before blanket rezoning can go ahead, a specific process must take place:
- Preparation and mapping by City Administration
- Notifying all affected property owners
- Public engagement
- Administration prepares a recommendation for Council, incorporating public feedback
- A public hearing of Council where Calgarians can share their views
- A final decision by Council
It's important to note that all members of Council are legally required to remain open to persuasion at the public hearing on this proposed change. As a result, we encourage all Calgarians to fully participate in this process, whatever their views on the matter.
City Administration anticipates the public hearing will take place sometime in the second quarter of 2024.
We will continue to share updates on this process at calgary.ca/ward1 as more information becomes available.
Watch Councillor Sharp debate blanket rezoning
Administration responds to Councillor Sharp on blanket rezoning's next steps
Nearly everyone that Councillor Sharp and the Community Development Committee heard from agreed: Council should take action to address our housing affordability crisis.
Passing the strategy isn't enough: we must ensure that the Housing Strategy is resulting in more homes and more affordability and ensure that Council can address any unintended consequences.
To ensure we remain accountable, Councillor Sharp brought an amendment to the Community Development Committee's recommendations to Council. Administration must present an annual report to Council which will include:
- Updates on process changes or new costs affecting applicants to the Planning Department
- Recommendations to mitigate additional costs that applicants or homeowners face as a result of the Housuing Strategy (if any)
- Metrics and data from The City and the development industry that show:
- How savings are passed on to consumers
- Measures of success for the housing strategy
- Updates on Planning & Development permit processing times
Councillor Sharp's amendment was approved unanimously.
The housing strategy isn't perfect, and many of the action items will still need further approval by Council and have to be considered as part of Council's budget. But on the whole, I'm glad we're taking some steps to improve affordability for all Calgarians.
I'm glad that Calgarians will still have a chance to have their say on the issue of blanket rezoning early next year. I will keep you update on how you can participate.
I hope we see support from the federal and provincial governments to carry out the actions in this strategy, alongside their own efforts to improve affordability.
Watch Councillor Sharp debate her amendment to uphold accountability on the Housing Strategy
Categories: General, Housing