Information | Rezoning for Housing

Public hearing on April 22, 2024. Proposed rezoning will support more housing options in all communities.

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Ward 14 - Peter Demong

Affordable Housing Decisions and What's Next

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Now that the dust has settled from Committee and Council meetings featuring the City’s affordable housing recommendations, I want to take some time to debrief you.

While some of the recommendations are now underway, many will still undergo Council votes, and even more public engagement before they are fully engrained in the City’s plans. So, I will touch on three points for you: what happened; my thoughts on all of this; and what comes next.

Housing is a big topic right now, both in Canada and even around the globe. It is also an extremely complicated one.

The City of Calgary is trying to tackle the problem of the rising cost of housing through its proposed Housing Strategy (i.e., the recommendations it made to Committee and Council).

Those recommendations outlined over sixty planned actions. They were organized based on outcome as part of the report made to my Council colleagues and I, but for our purposes they can be seen as fitting into three major categories:

  1. those that could be enacted at once with current resources.
  2. those that need more funding and are subject to further budget approval.
  3. those that need another Council vote and potentially a public hearing.

Actions in the first category include:

  • value statements about housing,
  • cutting red tape,
  • making building housing quicker,
  • calling on other levels of government for help.

The common thread among them is they are either reiterations of current direction or are relatively minor adjustments to current plans. They are important items, but not the game-changing ones that have drawn the attention of so many.

In contrast, actions in the second category will come to another Council vote. Most will be scrutinized at our next budget approval point in November, but a few will not be in the proposed budget until later years.

In general, the actions proposed distributing money to enable affordable housing construction, but they can also include incentives for affordable housing that can affect the City’s budget in other ways, like providing property tax exemptions or reallocating City-owned land.

Final numbers are something that I will be looking for at budget time, but the total number will likely be in the $100M range.

This does not necessarily mean an increased budget or higher property taxes, but it could.

What has drawn the attention of most—including those who have contacted my office—is the actions that fall into the third category.

All the actions in the third category will find their way in front of Council for another vote in one way or another.

Many will also need a public hearing.

Some involve mobilizing city-owned lands for affordable housing. Some involve fast-tracking the City’s plans to develop density and affordable housing around transit sites, and some involve changing land use bylaws.

There are several proposed actions that fall in the third category, but the headline item is clearly what some people are calling the “blanket rezoning”.

Today all residential properties in Calgary come with a base level of allowable development.

This means a single-detached home and a basement suite with restrictions on height etc. is allowed on any residential property without further approval from City Council.

Action 1.C.4.I of administration’s recommendations (i.e., the “blanket rezoning) proposed to change this base level of maximum allowable development to four “semi-detached” dwelling units (basically four rowhouses).

Each of these rowhouses would be allowed a basement suite, for a total maximum of eight dwelling units on the base residential parcel of land where the maximum had previously been two.

During the meeting, Committee made some amendments to the Housing Strategy. They included:

  • using City-owned sites for emergency housing for families,
  • incenting downtown office conversions to support post-secondary residents,
  • investigating business licensing for residential landlords,
  • considering infrastructure investments for increased densities,
  • and adding reporting considerations for planning application processes.

How does your Councillor feel about this, and how did he vote?

Frankly, I do not have a problem with most of it. As always, I will be scrutinizing budget asks intensely, but there is no doubt that we need to tackle the rising cost of housing and help those who do not have a roof over their heads.

But there were a few changes to City zoning like the “blanket rezoning” that I could just not bring myself to support. The citizens of Ward 14 made it clear to me they had reservations about the rezoning.

Candidly, when questioned, I did not find that administration had adequate answers to how infrastructure would keep up with increased density or even how the increased density would guarantee affordability.

While I supported many amendments, and most of the actions in the Housing Strategy, I could not support those items, and therefore, could not vote in favor of the recommendations.

The chairperson in any committee or Council meeting will often entertain requests for some items to be voted on individually. That was not the case in this instance. The entirety of the Housing Strategy with amendments was passed by majority in Council.

What’s Next?

The typical process to approve a City strategy is that it is first passed at a committee meeting, and then receives final approval at a Council meeting within the next week or two. In this case the Mayor called a special meeting of Council to approve the Housing Strategy immediately after it had been passed in Committee.

I did not see the reason for such urgency, but this is certainly not an abandonment of democratic process as I have read on social media.

As you probably guessed, the actions in the first category are now currently underway, but you will still have a chance to speak your mind on the second and third categories.

Most of the budget implications of the Housing Strategy come to a final decision in November at the 2024 budget cycle adjustments to the City’s 2023-2026 Service Plans and Budgets.

You can expect to get another email from me as that time approaches, but for now you can visit for more information.

I am, of course always happy to receive your feedback on how the City should be spending money at

As for the “blanket rezoning” item, there will be another opportunity for feedback through a public hearing (as there will be with all other actions that require land-use or bylaw changes). That is the legislated process they must follow.

As with the budget adjustments, you can expect an email from me about your next opportunity for input on the “blanket rezoning” in the coming months.

I hope you have found this helpful.

Feel free to contact me at with any questions. I will do my best to get you answers.

For details on the proposed Housing Strategy before amendments you can visit

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Categories: Motions and Initiatives