Rezoning for housing

Calgary needs more homes. Citywide rezoning will help.

With the approval of Home is Here: The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy, Council directed us to take actions to address the housing crisis. One of these actions is the proposed citywide rezoning to a base residential district, or zone, to R-CG, R-G, or H-GO. This change will help increase the supply of housing to meet demand. Also, it reduces the costs and timelines for permit approvals. Finally, it allows for greater housing variety and options to suit your needs.

Updates


No zoning will change without Council approval. A public hearing date has been set for April 22, 2024. This is when Administration will present a recommended approach to citywide rezoning to Council. The report will include proposed textual amendments to the bylaw and include the redesignations for parcels to R-CG, R-G, and H-GO.

The public may attend the public hearing in person or submit written input on any or all of these proposed changes. Learn more about participating in public hearings at calgary.ca/publichearing.

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Why now?

In September 2023, Council approved the Home is Here: The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy 2024-2030. Council directed Administration to implement several actions in the Housing Strategy by Q2 2024 to increase the supply of housing to meet demand and increase affordability:

  • Rezone to a new base residential district (zone), R-CG
  • Rezone to H-GO in approved Local Area Plans where appropriate
  • Allow both a secondary suite and a backyard suite on the same property
  • Remove parking requirements for backyard suites
  • Add Contextual Single-Detached Dwelling to R-CG, to ensure development rights are maintained

We’ll present a proposed approach to Council at the public hearing on April 22, 2024. If you’d like to have your voice heard on any of these five specific actions, please submit your feedback here. You can also participate in the public hearing; more information here.

What does rezoning mean?


If Council approves the proposed initiative, rezoning will mean:

It will be easier, and legal, to build various types of homes in our communities. This includes single-detached, semi-detached, row houses, and townhouses.

Properties that currently only allow single or semi-detached homes will be rezoned to R-CG, R-G or H-GO.

Proposed (re)developments will still need to go through the development permit and approval process. This is where all aspects of the development will be reviewed in detail.

What does rezoning not mean?


Rezoning does not mean:

Property owners will be prevented from replacing existing homes with new, single-detached homes. Existing single-detached homes will also not be removed.

Removing single-family homes or only supporting row house developments. Rezoning will increase housing options. It intends to meet the demand from Calgarians for homes with front doors at ground level (not apartments).

Removing the development permit process. The landowner will need to apply for (re)development and building permits. This is to ensure the proposed new home(s) remain compatible with the surrounding community.

That apartment buildings can be built on parcels where single-detached homes are today.

The proposed rezoning to R-CG, R-G, and H-GO will include existing parks or green spaces. While parks are being proposed for rezoning (i.e. shifting from R-C1 to R-CG), this does not mean they are being proposed for development. They will remain park spaces even if they are rezoned.

Zoning examples - Calgary communities

Click to expand images.

Zoning example - RRC-2 duplex and RC-2 single

Zoning example - R-CG and RC-2

Zoning example - R-CG

Zoning example - RC-2 and R-CG

Zoning example - R-G

Zoning example - H-GO

Zoning example - R-CG and RC-2

Zoning example - R-CG

Zoning example - R-CG and RC-2 duplex

Zoning example - R-G

Why this matters


Rezoning improves choice and affordability

As with other goods, the balance between housing supply and demand influences price and availability. Research evidence is clear: a variety of abundant housing is fundamental to affordability. Rowhouses, for example, give Calgarians a type of home that is in high demand at lower price points compared to single and semi-detached houses in the same community. It improves relative affordability compared to if they are not widely available.

Citywide base zoning also allows new community builders to respond to housing demand efficiently. That is, without the need to rezone land parcels when consumer preferences change.

Rezoning adds homes and families to existing communities

Cities are forever growing and changing, and our communities need to keep pace!

Most mature communities, especially those built prior to 1980, are below their historical peak population. Due to the decline in population and higher efficiency houses being built, there is now infrastructure capacity. This includes roads, transit stops, water and wastewater management, etc. to handle more types of housing.

Additional benefits of having a diverse choice of homes across the city:

  • Walkable communities with amenities like schools, parks, and grocery stores.
  • Attraction of new businesses and people to Calgary.
  • Creation of interactive spaces which encourage connection.
  • Long-term support towards a sustainable and greener future. This is achieved by access to pathways and increasing transit options to encourage low-carbon modes of transportation.
  • Costs to maintain utilities, roads, and sidewalks and other amenities shared among a larger population. This also helps to keep property taxes down.
  • Allows Calgarians the opportunity to live and remain in the same community as our housing needs change over our lifetime. 

Rezoning supports climate action

Creating attractive communities requires thoughtful planning.  The future viability and livability of older communities is being challenged. This occurs as new communities build more housing and absorb larger portions of the city's population growth.

Encouraging housing in existing communities is one of the most powerful actions the City can take to achieve our climate goals. Allowing more housing within the existing footprint of the city improves our sustainability by:

  • Allowing more people to live in new, more efficient homes.  New housing can be 35-50% more energy efficient than the older housing it replaces.
  • Decreasing the distance between trips to work, school or amenities.
  • Creating opportunities to get around the city by walking, biking, or taking transit.
  • Preserving natural grassland and agricultural land on the outskirts of the city.

For these reasons, the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), the Calgary Climate Strategy, and the Climate Implementation Plan encourage that more housing be developed in existing neighbourhoods.

Examples of rezoning around the world

Take a look at these case studies on the effects of rezoning on housing supply from around the world:

Timeline


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September 2014

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Public Hearing on R-CG (24P2014, item 9.2)

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October 2022

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Public Hearing on Land Use Bylaw Amendments to Address Missing Middle Housing

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September 2023

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Public Hearing on Home is Here: The City of Calgary's Housing Strategy

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January 2024

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Ongoing information sharing with citizens and interested groups. Click to expand details.

In-person and online information sessions begin. More information here 

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February 2024

Start Date | End Date

In-person and online information sessions continue. Click to expand details.

More information here.

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March 2024

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Notification to impacted landowners.

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March 2024

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March 7, 2024 – Proposed rezoning presented to Calgary Planning Commission for recommendation to Council.

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April 2024

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Public Hearing meeting of Council – April 22, 2024. Click to expand details.

Submit your thoughts to Council here

Next steps


The next steps towards rezoning for housing are:
  • Preparation: create maps of the parcels that are subject to change; prepare notifications; and communication.
  • Communication: prepare plain language materials, letters and mail drops, and other communication methods to ensure Calgarians understand the change, what it means and why.
  • Notification: send out legal letters to landowners; include broad public communication on how to participate in the public hearing and advertising.
  • Public Feedback: the public will have the opportunity to provide feedback to Administration on the proposed changes, just as they can on any land use redesignation.
  • Recommendation: following communication, information sessions and notifications, we will prepare a recommendation and report for Council’s consideration. This recommendation will reflect all inputs received on this work to that date and is not predetermined prior to the Recommendation step.  
  • Calgary Planning Commission (CPC), March 7, 2024: our recommendation is presented to CPC for a recommendation to Council.
  • Public Hearing of Council, April 22, 2024: the CPC recommendation will be advertised; the public can make their views known to Council by written submission or verbal presentation, and Council makes the final decision.

Frequently asked questions


The approved Housing Strategy recommends proactively rezoning land parcels in Calgary that don’t currently allow for more than one or two houses. What does that mean?

By rezoning all residential parcels that currently only allow for 1 or 2 units, it will be easier for property owners to add additional housing varieties across the city, without having to go through the additional steps of a Land Use change Amendment application. Property owners will still be required to apply for a development permit to ensure proposed new houses are compatible with the surrounding community and all rules in the Land Use Bylaw are followed.  Administration will bring forward a rezoning proposal for Council’s consideration and decision by no later than Q2 2024.

What is R-CG and R-G and how do they differ?

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 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.

Which parcels of land will be affected now that Council has directed Administration to propose changes to the base land use district to R-CG?  

All parcels that are zoned R-C1, R-C1L, R-C1Ls, R-C1s, R-C1N, R-CG(ex)& R-C2, will be proposed for rezoning to R-CG.  Parcels currently zoned R-1, R-1s, R-1N and R-2 will be proposed for rezoning to R-G.

I live in a community that’s mostly single detached houses; what are duplexes and rowhouses (as enabled by RCG as a zoning district)? 

Typical rowhouses are between 1300 to 1600 sq. ft, with three bedrooms, making them highly attractive to many Calgarian household types; they sometimes include secondary basement suites adding affordable supply and in some cases a mortgage-helping income for the property owner.  Duplex (or semi-detached) houses are typically between 1600-2000 sq. ft. and have a shared wall between the two primary homes. They may also have secondary suites. The form of housing is very common in inner city communities, many of which have allowed this form of housing for decades.   In the R-CG district, all houses must have their front doors at ground level. 

Will rezoning forbid construction of single-detached homes?

No. At the time of development or redevelopment a landowner will decide what type of housing they would like to build. The proposed development would have to comply with all the rules of the Land Use Bylaw. This change will not take away the ability to build single-detached dwellings, the change is intended to provide more housing options for landowners. The landowner decides what type of home they want. The City will also not demolish existing single-detached houses. Further, because the rules of R-CG and R-G have been amended over time, they provide the best rules to develop all forms, including single-detached homes.

Where will redevelopments happen? In every community?

Not all communities will experience R-CG or R-G redevelopment, with many newer communities unlikely to experience any redevelopment of this type within the next 15-20 years. There are several factors that affect the likelihood of redevelopment to occur, including:

  • Land value, age, and condition of an existing home
  • Location
  • Lot shape
  • Lane access

With the introduction of the R-G district in the developing areas in 2016 (R-G is very similar to R-CG except for contextual rules), the majority of our applications in developing areas are using the R-G district. This district provides more flexibility to developers to adjust their development forms based on current market trends without having to rezone. There is still a significant amount of single detached homes being built under R-G. The application of R-CG in the developed areas will likely have the same effect, allowing developers to create a range of housing types that are responsive to the market.

Can our infrastructure handle R-CG as a base zoning district?

Yes. Most established area communities, especially those built prior to 1980, are 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.

How will R-CG as the base zoning district for houses affect timelines for development applications?

Rezoning will streamline the process that property owners must follow if they want to build houses on their land, eliminating the need for individual and time-consuming rezoning. Development and Building Permits would still be required. It is these two permits that ensure new buildings meet the rules for height, lot coverage, setbacks, and landscaping, and that the houses are sound from a health and safety perspective.

What is the relationship between new housing supply and broader housing affordability? In addition, these new homes are expensive, how can they do anything to help housing affordability?

Research shows that adding new homes improves housing affordability for Calgarians. Even when new housing is expensive, adding more homes means fewer people are competing against each other to find a home that fits their needs and budgets.

Allowing a variety of housing types saves Calgarians money because more options mean households only have to pay for what they need for their lifestyle. Adding new homes in an area can reduce rents nearby because older homes need to be priced more competitively to attract households.

Can we not just grow in new communities to address affordability? Why do we need redevelopment?

New communities play a large role in enabling supply and affordability. Nevertheless, the demand for homes in established communities is very high. Restricting different types of housing, including ground-oriented rowhouses and townhouses in established communities, would result in demand outpacing supply and further increases in rents and prices, reducing affordability. Offering people more choice in the type of housing that suits their needs, including proximity to employment and amenities, can reduce emissions by decreasing travel distance and increasing transportation options. Having more housing options also provides Calgarians the opportunity to live and remain in the same community close to friends, family, and the things we know and enjoy, as our housing needs change over our lifetime.

Can we not just grow within the established areas’ brownfield redevelopments (like Currie Barracks), Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) and corridors, and through building conversions (City-owned etc.)?

Consumer choice has strong impacts on city growth. Significant brownfield redevelopment opportunities are limited. TODs and corridors have land value, population and job targets that mean most new homes will be apartments. While apartments are crucial, demand for ground-level housing in Calgary is high.

If someone builds a rowhouse, what is the impact on property value of the single-detached house adjacent to or directly across from the development?

Based on current market analysis, there is no evidence that there is any negative impact on the property value of houses adjacent to rowhouse developments.

Is there an impact to assessment values if rezoning moves forward?

City tax assessment values are based on the market value for the building/type of building based on market comparables. While the latter may reflect redevelopment potential, the redevelopment potential is not factored into The City's tax assessment.

When growth occurs in my neighbourhood, how will the additional waste and recycling be managed?  

To improve the space for waste and recycling bins, Administration has added requirements to Development Permit applications for:

  • Site design and screening;
  • More room for on-site waste and recycling bins through greater flexibility in site design; and
  • Providing educational resources to applicants.

Bylaw changes now also allow bin-sharing, the use of new technologies, and bin enforcement. Further long-term improvements are also being explored.

Can my neighbourhood manage the additional parking required for increased congestion as a result of growth and redevelopment?  

Yes. On-street parking is for everyone. Where parking congestion is an issue on streets, we take steps to ensure that there is enough parking available by managing the space with permit parking, time restricted parking, or paid parking. We also work with builders to make it easier to use different modes of transportation for future residents, such as providing bicycle parking and building better sidewalks, among other things.   

Where will rezoning to H-GO be proposed?

Rezoning to H-GO (Housing – Grade Oriented) will be proposed for parcels that have been identified in the three approved Local Area Plans as suitable for H-GO (as per the criteria in the Land Use Bylaw). The three approved Local Area Plans where this approach has been actioned are:

  • North Hill Communities
  • Westbrook Communities
  • Heritage Communities

I want to (re)develop my property. Should I apply now or wait until Council has made a decision about base rezoning?

Deciding when to apply for (re)development is the sole decision of the applicant, and City staff are unable to advise applicants on the timing of their applications. 

Please note:

  •  Council will not make a decision about this project until April 22, 2024, and there is no guaranteed outcome.
  • Refunds for applications will follow our standard refund policy and will be based on where your application is in the process. 
  • Should Council approve the proposed rezoning, there will be a delayed implementation and these changes are anticipated to come into effect August 2024. 

Was the decision to change the zoning and make the base residential district R-CG influenced by the Federal government/programming/funding?

Cities across Canada and the USA are facing a housing crisis, largely because of high demand and low supply. City zoning bylaws that prohibit homes that are smaller and more affordable are one of the key constraints on the supply side of the market. Many cities across North America are changing their zoning bylaws to allow for more choice of housing, regardless of any federal funding.

The proposed rezoning was included in “Home is Here, The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy 2024-2030” before a decision from the Federal government was communicated to the City of Calgary regarding the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), and prior to the agreement being signed.

Council will make the decision to proceed or not proceed with the rezoning at a Public Hearing of Council on April 22, 2024. If City Council does not approve the proposed rezoning, the fourth advance of HAF Funding may be impacted. Federal Housing Minister Fraser’s letter in September to Mayor Gondek and members of City Council, did, however, highlight the importance of taking this action to help create more supply. 

In addition to the proposed rezoning, The City’s Action Plan includes other initiatives, such as delivering more housing downtown, investing in Transit Oriented Development, building inclusive and equitable housing programs, and incentivizing legal secondary suites.

What is a restrictive covenant (RC)? Can't we just use RCs to maintain our existing zoning?

Restrictive covenants are a private civil agreement between the parties listed on the agreement. The City of Calgary reviews Development Permits and Land Use Amendments in accordance with the legislative framework set out under Part 17 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA). Our planning review and considerations are not bound by the restrictive covenant. The City does not determine the validity, nor enforce private agreements between landowners when determining the appropriateness of a Land Use Bylaw amendment. The validity and enforcement of a restrictive covenant is a private civil matter to be dealt with between the parties subject to the agreement, if one or more of those parties choose to do so.

Will the current Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) restrictions prevent Calgarians from rezoning properties in those affected areas? If not, why?

There are some areas of the city that are subject to additional policies or have special circumstances like the Airport Vicinity Protection Area (AVPA).  Rezoning would not impact NEF restrictions, and all regulations and potential redevelopment would be managed through the development permit process.

When can I apply for a secondary suite grant? When will the secondary suite grant be available? I've heard there is a $10,000 grant for secondary suites; what can you tell me about it?

As part of budget discussions in November 2023, Council approved City funding for the Secondary Suite Incentive Program. This is in addition to funding being provided through the Housing Accelerator Fund.

The program team continues to develop the program. This includes finalizing the terms of reference and eligibility for the program. Please check calgary.ca/secondarysuites or sign up for our email list for updates on the program and when it will launch.

Is this Rezoning for Housing proposing residential development on existing parks?

Many Calgarians have voiced concern that the proposed rezoning map is showing existing park spaces being proposed for rezoning to R-CG, or R-G. Many city open spaces and parks have a residential zoning going back decades. A park is a permitted use in most residential zones, for example R-C1, R-C2 and R-CG. While parks are being proposed for rezoning (i.e. shifting from R-C1 to R-CG), this does not mean they are being proposed for development. They will remain park spaces even if they are rezoned.

Did The City engage the real estate industry in creating the proposal to rezone low density districts to R-CG, R-G or H-GO? If so, who was included?

The City Of Calgary is in continuous dialogue with the home building industry, primarily BILD Calgary and the Calgary Inner City Builders Association (CICBA). The Planning & Development Services department meets monthly with representatives of the industry to discuss trends, concerns, issues and opportunities. The Housing Strategy’s recommendation to rezone to a base residential district was a topic of the monthly meetings.
 
On January 23, 2024, Administration presented the Rezoning for Housing initiative to the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) members at an event organized by CREB. Administration has also hosted six in-person information events and four online information events for all Calgarians, whether professionals or citizens, to learn about the proposals, to ask questions and to provide their feedback.

Despite having attended info sessions and having an in-house economist, Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) members raised concerns that seem to stem from a lack of understanding of the city's proposal—what is Administration doing to address this problem?

Upon Administration’s review of CREB’s release, and given our past presentation to their members, Administration contacted CREB with an invitation to meet. Our goal is to discuss these concerns in order to understand them and potentially provide CREB with further information to aid their understanding of the proposed rezoning.  We have also added three further public information sessions in March, which CREB members are invited to attend.

Realtors would like to see more supply become available at the lower end of the market. How does rezoning help do this?

A major driver of this action, coming from the Home is Here: The City of Calgary's Housing Strategy, is to remove barriers and increase housing choice, such as including different sizes of homes that would be on the lower end of the market. One reason for the constrained supply is that the land use districts (zones) in place in approximately 60% of Calgary’s residential areas today do not allow for a choice of housing beyond single-detached or semi-detached homes.

When it comes to enabling a better city for all Calgarians, is giving homeowners certainty on what can be built in next door important?

We acknowledge people’s desire for certainty and that there will be less certainty that a like-for-like home will be built on a neighbour’s property if the proposed rezoning is approved by Council. While offering more choice will reduce the certainty of knowing whether one’s neighbour will build a single-detached home or a rowhouse, what will be certain is that any new homes being built next door will be held to all of the rules and expectations of the low-density residential land use zoning.

Does The City have an estimated number of units that can be created by rezoning in the short term?

Administration’s projections anticipate that R-CG as a base residential district would generate an additional 250 properties redeveloping to rowhouses per year, translating into approximately 750 net new additional homes (1,000 rowhouses minus former single dwelling that’s been replaced), plus secondary suites to be built in the first year. Under R-CG, new single-detached homes replacing older ones, and new semi-detached homes are still expected. Over the long-term, using R-CG as the base residential district may increase Calgary's annual housing starts by 8-12%. This means 1,500 net more homes per year (2,000 rowhouses minus former single dwelling that’s been replaced), which will have a material impact on overall supply in the housing market compared to the business-as-usual scenario.

If implemented, how will The City evaluate the success of rezoning?

Success includes the ability for more Calgarians to find a stable, quality home that fits their lifestyles, in a community that meets their needs. Administration will monitor and track the number of new units measured against anticipated units, their location, price and effect on city-wide housing costs.

How will rezoning make a difference in the number of new homes being built in new communities and other places in the city? Aren't we already growing everywhere?

Calgary currently has 40 new communities under development on its city edges. In 2023, approximately 12,500 new homes were approved for construction in these communities, marking the highest number of housing starts in at least a decade. Despite this surge in construction activity, the supply of homes still failed to keep pace with the strong demand, leading to rising prices and rents. New communities made up for 76% of the total citywide share of new homes, highlighting how fast these communities are already building. Rezoning initiatives have been proposed to help remove barriers and facilitate the development of low to medium density housing in established communities. This move aims to unlock new housing options and increase supply to meet the needs of Calgarians during a period of rapid growth.

Resources


We’re planning and building our city now to ensure we remain a place where home is sustainable, diverse, accessible, equitable and livable for everyone. We need to act now as we are quickly approaching a population of two million Calgarians.

Current initiatives include:  

  • Home is Here: The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy: This strategy aspires to ensure that everyone living in Calgary has an affordable place to call home.

  • City Building Program: This program of work, which includes the Calgary Plan, Zoning Bylaw, and Street Manual, will set the forward-looking direction, and provide clear and user-friendly policy and regulation for The City and our partners to guide growth, mobility, land-use and development citywide.

  • Local Area Planning Program: Local area plans provide direction on redevelopment and reinvestment that will guide livable, equitable and diverse growth in our communities over the next 30 years. 

  • Established Area Growth & Change Strategy: This strategy connects planning, financial, and investment decisions to support our existing communities as they experience growth and change. It supports communities and local businesses so they can be vibrant and successful for decades to come.

Development Permit Process

Neighbourhood Growth

R-CG: Residential Grade Oriented

R-G: Residential Low Density Mixed Housing

H-GO: Housing Grade-Oriented

In-person Information Session Content

Landscape Design Guide for Small Residential Sites


This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​

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