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 9 - Gian-Carlo Carra

Spring 2024 Newsletter

Calgary is in a housing crisis. We need more homes.

In June of 2022, council directed administration to develop the Housing and Affordability Task Force. Their focus was to create recommendations related to increasing, measuring, and managing housing affordability and affordable housing along the entire housing continuum. A tremendous amount of research, work, and consultation was done by the Task Force to form their comprehensive recommendations.  

One of the HATF recommendations is to implement inclusive city-wide rezoning throughout Calgary. This means changing the base residential district to allow for the building of low-density housing, including single-detached, semi-detached (duplexes), and rowhouses on most lots throughout Calgary.  

Rezoning will help increase the supply of housing to meet demand, while reducing the costs and timelines for permit approvals. This will allow for greater housing variety, price points, and options to suit more Calgarians evolving needs.

We understand that this conversation is difficult and nuanced. And while engagement with Calgarians is crucial for informing council decisions, the responsibility of council is to thoughtfully consider the expertise of our administrative recommendations alongside the outreach from constituents. Striking the appropriate balance demands thoughtful understanding of both the immediate concerns and long-term needs of all Calgarians.

The recommendations put forward by the Housing and Affordability Task Force offer a comprehensive roadmap on how we can effectively tackle Calgary's housing crisis.  

Ward 9 FAQ's

Our office has heard from community members asking how changes to exclusionary zoning will affect Ward 9’s established communities. Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions we’ve heard.

I know Calgary needs more housing, but why does it need to be in my neighborhood?
Why can’t housing be built on vacant lots around the city or on greenfield sites/in
new communities?

In short, we need more housing everywhere. Ward 9 is home to many of the most sought after communities in Calgary. Communities that people want to live in and move to. We live in a regulated free market system - government does not have the power to compel privately owned vacant lots to develop; nor does it have the power to compel existing privately owned buildings to be tenanted in specific ways. What government can do is incentivize better outcomes in the private sector (there is a wide range of carrots and sticks that can be applied in that regard) and, more importantly, government can work to create a significant supply of non-market housing - which is what our new housing strategy is intending to do. We believe a healthy end state would be ~20% of our housing supply being non-market housing (currently in Calgary non-market housing sits around ~2%.).

Additionally, our Citywide Growth Strategy focuses on how and where Calgary invests in growth to achieve the long-term vision described in the Municipal Development Plan and Calgary Transportation Plan, and Council’s priorities of economic, social, and climate resiliency. This vision prioritizes our focus and investment on the Established Area Growth and Change Strategy, while being more discerning about greenfield growth and the creation of new communities that contribute to further sprawl.   

How can we ensure developers don’t just build more expensive, high-end
properties that the average Calgarian can not afford?

The balance between housing supply and demand influences price and availability. It is now proven beyond any doubt that more supply reduces prices across the board - ‘luxury condos’ reduce competition for housing options at lower price points all the way along the supply spectrum. If supply is not keeping up with demand - which is the dangerous situation we find ourselves in right now in Calgary - preventing more supply from coming on line (at any price point) will displace lower income households much more significantly.

Other major cities throughout North America have implemented similar inclusive rezoning reform to much success. Edmonton implemented a similar rezoning policy last year and is quickly gaining traction as a leader in forward-thinking housing reform in North America. Additionally, The City of Calgary’s Rezoning for Housing website includes a variety of case studies speaking to the effects of rezoning on housing supply from around the world.

What is the difference between RC-G and R-G? What will these developments
look like?

R-CG stands for Residential Grade-Oriented Infill District. R-G stands for Residential – Low Density Mixed Housing District. These are two modern districts in the Land Use Bylaw that both allow for a range of low-density homes, including single-detached, semi-detached (duplexes), and rowhouses.

The primary difference between them is that the R-CG district is used in the established communities and contains contextual rules (the “C” in R-CG) to ensure infill buildings fit into the context of the existing homes on the street. Since R-G is used in new, developing communities that are designed by the developer, context rules are not needed.

A few current examples of what these types of developments can look like are shown below.

Our inner-city neighbourhood has seen a lot of development pressure over
the years. Won’t this change just cause more?

A city-wide rezoning approach will help lessen the current pressures on inner-city neighbourhoods. The restrictive zoning throughout most of the city results in added costs and longer timelines for developers to go through the rezoning process. It also means that lots currently zoned R-CG (the bulk of which are in inner-city neighbourhoods) are highly sought after, and often sell for well above market value, simply because it reduces developers upfront costs and timelines significantly (compared to a lot that needs to go through the rezoning process.) Again, the limited supply of these types of lots means less variety of multi-family housing is being built, which in turn drives up prices. By removing exclusionary zoning, multi-family housing can begin to spread throughout Calgary, causing less intensity on the established communities where it is currently allowed to be built.

It’s also worth noting that Calgary communities built after 2013 are already largely zoned RG which allows for a mix of low-density housing choice throughout. A city-wide change will bring the rest of the city up to date with our thoughtful and more current city building practices.

More Neighbours Calgary published an article called Visualizing the Impact of Rezoning - it has a lot of helpful information on the realistic visual impacts that rezoning will have on our city, including simulations of what real communities could see in terms of change. Much of the density we can anticipate will largely go unnoticed as new developments will be contextual. Additionally, changes will be gradual and less concentrated in specific neighbourhoods, like we’re experiencing now.

People who have lived in our community for years are being displaced and
priced out of the neighborhood. How can this help?

Being thoughtful about how we increase density is part of the conversation, especially as we make way for the GreenLine and see increased connectivity in areas like Ogden, Ramsay, and Inglewood. We are hyper aware of the current sweep of development that is pricing residents out of the communities they are connected to, but again, more variety of development to meet the needs of all Calgarians is the ultimate point of rezoning, and a critical step toward affordability. We have heard from many seniors that they would like to downsize and age in place in the community they are connected to, but the variety of housing choice for them to move within their community to is simply not available.

Can our existing infrastructure handle this rezoning change?

Yes. Almost all established communities, especially those built prior to 1980, are well below their historical peak population. Due to declining population in those areas and higher efficiency houses being built, there is existing infrastructure capacity (roads, transit stops, water and wastewater management, etc.) to handle more types of housing.

Additionally The City has both proactive and regular monitoring and testing for utilities infrastructure. These programs operate in every community throughout Calgary, and help ensure as our infrastructure ages, we are aware of when updates are needed.

What has the City done to engage with residents about rezoning changes?

A common argument we are hearing is that Calgarians have not had enough time to engage and learn about the rezoning recommendation. It is important to note that discussions around the City of Calgary Housing Strategy have been ongoing since March of 2023, with recommendations being publicly shared in July of 2023. There was a public hearing held this past September that consisted of three full days where 1000's of Calgarians came out to speak and wrote letters in support of all of the Housing Strategy recommendations, including rezoning.  

Additionally, during the summer of 2023, The City's Corporate Research team undertook a survey among a randomly selected and statistically-representative sample group of Calgarians to gauge perceptions regarding housing affordability and assess support for the policy recommendations put forth by the Housing Affordability Task Force. 

Participants were asked to weigh in on the Task Force's suggestion to diversify housing options across Calgary, which included allowing for various housing forms such as single detached homes, semi-detached, and rowhouses on parcels currently restricted to single detached homes and one suite.  

Results revealed a significant level of support for the Task Force's recommendation, with 83% of respondents expressing their approval for the initiative. Among those, 45% showed strong support for the proposal, indicating a widespread acknowledgment of the need to address housing affordability concerns through diversified housing options. 

Lastly, while community engagement plays a vital role in the decision-making processes, it must be balanced against and considerate of what is objectively in the best interest of all Calgarians. The Housing and Affordability Task Force was established to bring together individuals with diverse expertise in housing, including builders, operators, researchers, and residents. Their thorough research and consultation with policy experts has provided valuable insight into addressing Calgary's housing crisis. So while community input is important, it is only one aspect to consider when council is tasked with making challenging but critical decisions. 

We have a long way to go and we need to move quickly.

Why did Councillor Carra vote against holding a plebiscite on rezoning?

During a recent Special Meeting of Council, Councillor Carra was among eight council members that voted against a proposed Notice of Motion to hold a plebiscite on rezoning. Primary concerns included: delayed timelines, added costs, and councils role and responsibility to Calgarians on an issue of this magnitude.

You can read the full rationale behind his decision HERE.  

Additional Resources

If you are looking to learn more about rezoning or have questions about how rezoning may affect your community, below are some resources for information, opportunities for engagement, and thoughtful commentary.  

  • Ward 9 FAQ's on Rezoning 
    Our office has heard from community members asking how changes to exclusionary zoning will affect Ward 9’s established communities. Check out some answers to many of the frequently asked questions we’re hearing.

  • Visualizing the Impact of Rezoning, by More Neighbours Calgary 
    Helpful information on the realistic visual impacts that rezoning will have on our city, including simulations of what real communities could see in terms of change. Much of the density we can anticipate will largely go unnoticed as new developments will be contextual.

Share Your Feedback

Your support, comments, and feedback are a critical piece of tackling Calgary’s housing crisis. Please talk to your family, your friends, and your neighbours, and share how they can get involved.

Share your feedback at the Public Hearing on April 22, 2024.

There are three ways Calgarians can participate at the public hearing:

  • Register to speak in-person - Members of the public wishing to speak in person can pre-register using the public submission form. You are also welcome to register to speak when you arrive at Council Chambers on the day of the meeting.

  • Register to speak by phone - Members of the public wishing to speak remotely can use the public submission form to pre-register. You will receive further information on how to call-in once confirmed.

  • Write a letter - Members of the public wishing to submit a written comment as part of the official public record may do so by using the public submission form. You are able to include an attachment such as supporting documents,

For those coming to speak in-person at any council meeting, the City of Calgary offers a Transit Ticket Program that provides two complimentary transit tickets for in-person participants at Council public hearings on the day they speak. There is also Parking Program, that allows for up to 6 hours of complimentary parking in CPA Lot 36 - City Hall Underground Parkade accessed at 322 9 Ave S.E.

You can learn more about these programs HERE.

Categories: Newsletter

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