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

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Ward 14 - Peter Demong

October 2023 Newsletter

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Hello Ward 14!

Things are starting to get busy in October. Apart from the leaves, the pumpkins, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, City Council will also be getting ready for budget adjustments and tackling many other topics, so reach out to me to tell me what you think. You can visit calgary.ca/adjustments to learn more about that.

How to Navigate the City’s Website – Episode 3: Waste & Recycling

You are likely in the process of winterizing your garden and picking up your leaves at this time of year. You might also be thinking about getting rid of a well-used Jack-o’-lantern, and the green bin pick up schedule will soon be reverting to every other week. In all, it is a good time of year to talk about your blue, black and green bins.

Finding information about your bins (and other waste and recycling topics) on the City of Calgary website is quite easy. You can start from calgary.ca. From there scroll down the page just a bit. Under the heading “Programs and Services” you will see a button entitled “Properties and neighbourhoods”. Click it. You can also find this by clicking on “Programs and Services” in the dropdown menu on calgary.ca.

From there you will see the heading “Topics in this section” and you will then click on the “Garbage, recycling, and compost” button. That is where we are trying to go, but you might also notice there is a “Highlighted programs and services” section at the top of this page. Waste and recycling are a current topics for you to visit there too.

When you click on the “Garbage, recycling, and compost” button you will find pretty much anything you need to know about all your carts, what you can put in them, and even information about City landfill sites. You can also get there by simply typing calgary.ca/waste into your search bar.

There are a few other shortcuts to get to some useful pages. Visiting calgary.ca/collection will take you to pretty much any information you will need about your bin collection schedules. Visiting calgary.ca/landfill will take you to everything you need to know about City landfills. Finally, calgary.ca/whatgoeswhere takes you to a very useful tool. It tells you what you can put in each of your three bins.

Unveiling Calgary’s Historic Treasures on Map

Our vibrant city holds a tapestry of stories, architecture, and landmarks that have shaped Calgary’s identity. You can now unveil this history by exploring the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources Map, featuring over 900 Calgary heritage resources and sites. The interactive map is available at https://maps.calgary.ca/HeritageInventory/. It is also mobile-friendly! To view more City of Calgary maps, please visit the Map Gallery at mapgallery.calgary.ca.

Fireproof Your Kitchen

As autumn begins to set in and the cozy scent of comfort foods fills the air, we're reminded of the joys of cooking in our kitchens. With the joy of cooking, it's essential to remember our responsibility for fire safety.

This year, from October 8 - 14, the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) is proud to observe Fire Prevention Week with the theme, "Cooking safety starts with you. Pay attention to fire prevention."

Cooking-related incidents are the leading cause of indoor fires and injuries in Calgary. The CFD urges everyone to prioritize safety in the kitchen.

Never leave cooking unattended and set a timer to remind yourself. If you must leave the kitchen, turn off the burners.

Turn pot handles away from the stove's edge. Keep a lid and oven mitt nearby to smother small grease fires.

Maintain a one-meter "kid- and pet-free zone" around cooking areas. This includes tripping hazards such as toys.

Here are some additional tips and reminders:

  • Keep flammable items away from the stovetop.
  • Educate children about hot objects to prevent scalding injuries.
  • Grill outdoors, away from structures, with a one-metre safety zone for children and pets.
  • Use microwave ovens safely; avoid extension cords and open food cautiously
  • Avoid cooking when tired or after consuming alcohol or medication.

Follow these tips to keep your homes and loved ones safe. Together, we can ensure our kitchens remain places of joy and comfort, free from the risk of fires.

For more information, visit calgary.ca/firepreventionweek or call 3-1-1.

Tips for Emergencies

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Before a disaster, you can take various actions to minimize your home’s potential risk of damage and help reduce the stress of an emergency. Steps you can take to prepare your home for when an emergency event occurs include:

  • Create an emergency action plan for your household, including a home escape plan.
  • Ensure working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are on every level of your home.
  • Know how to turn off utilities. This includes the power, and water supplied to your home.
  • If applicable, know how to check sump pumps and backflow valves in your home to ensure they are working.
  • Know what to do if you suspect a gas leak in your home and who to call.
  • Ensure there is proper drainage around your home to help reduce the possibility of flooding.
  • Secure items around your property, such as bikes, patio furniture, and potted plants.
  • Keep your roof and downspouts clean and free of debris. Check for loose shingles regularly.
  • Having adequate insurance coverage can help you recover as quickly as possible. Reach out to your insurance representatives for any questions related to your insurance.

The Calgary Emergency Management Agency’s Prepare Your Home video series provides helpful tips to prepare and protect your home and family in case of an emergency. The videos are available in multiple languages, including American Sign Language.

To learn more about disaster risks and ways to prepare, visit calgary.ca/getready.

Affordable Housing Decisions and What’s Next?

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 entire 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 calgary.ca/adjustments for more information.

I am, of course always happy to receive your feedback on how the City should be spending money at calgary.ca/contactward14.

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 calgary.ca/contactward14 with any questions. I will do my best to get you answers.

For details on the proposed Housing Strategy before amendments you can visit calgary.ca/housingstrategy.

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Feel free to contact me any time. The best way to contact me is by visiting calgary.ca/contactward14 or calling (403) 268-1653.

Sincerely,

-Councillor Peter Demong

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Categories: Motions and Initiatives, Newsletter

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