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Ward 7 - Terry Wong

Councillor Wong on Citywide Rezoning

On May 14th, 2024, Calgary City Council voted to approve the Rezoning for Housing-related bylaw with a 9-6 vote. Based on the feedback expressed by Calgarians throughout this entire process, especially at the 4 Townhalls I hosted, at the Public Hearing with over 700 speakers, and after reviewing the more than 5,000 emails and letters received with over 70% of respondents were against blanket rezoning, I voted against this proposal.

While I know that Calgary is facing a housing shortage and affordability problem. The initial recommendations and the process of sharing them with the public was flawed. The Housing Strategy has 98 recommendations, and many are related to helping those who are sleeping rough, in encampments, living in shelters – some of which are unsafe, living on the brink of eviction or in abusive situations; these populations were the priorities that Calgarians believe should have been addressed first. Instead, we dedicated significant City staff to focus on passing Blanket Rezoning: 1 recommendation of the 98. This recommendation will provide hundreds of additional housing units each year, but not for the thousands of people that need transitional housing, social housing programs, and below market affordable housing supports. Due to the process that was followed and the final vote in comparison to the number of Calgarians that turned out and expressed their views and priorities, I believe that the outcome was disrespectful to the principles of representative democracy in Alberta.

Later this year in the fall, citywide blanket rezoning will come into effect. Changing the zoning for all low-density parcel zoning from R-C1 and R-C2 (single-dwelling, semi-detached, duplex) parcels to R-CG (which allows for single-dwelling, semi-detached, and duplex PLUS rowhouse, or townhouse). R-CG rowhouses and townhouses allow for a maximum of four dwelling units and 4 secondary suites on a typical 50’x120’ residential parcel. Throughout this process, I worked diligently to find solutions that would provide the additional needed homes while still respecting the character and feel of our communities. This is why I brought forward several amendments and supported numerous others that reflected what we heard from community members throughout the process. I want to outline these efforts today to help you understand the measures we took to address this issue thoughtfully, based off what Calgarians expressed that they wanted.

I firmly believe that addressing the housing crisis is the right thing to do. However, I also believe in addressing the needs of all Calgarians by doing things the right way. Respecting all constituents is a responsibility shared by both elected officials and public servants. While the amendments to the recommendation brought some improvements, I still believe that the decision to implement blanket rezoning was misguided and fell significantly short of the right approach.

There are better ways to address the housing crisis - by focusing on other housing strategy initiatives rather than blanket rezoning. We should not address this issue at the detriment of our communities, and certainly not by disregarding the voices of thousands of Calgarians who expressed their concerns. It is imperative that we find balanced and respectful solutions that genuinely address the housing needs of our city without compromising the integrity of our neighborhoods. Regardless, I will continue to advocate and represent our constituents to find, if not build, affordable housing the meets your needs.

Thanks for allowing me to represent you on this critical challenge.

Terry Wong, Ward 7 City Councillor

Categories: Housing, Updates, Ward 7