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Calgary Secondary Suite Fight Still Being Battled Out at City Hall

Posted by Kirby Cox on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 at 1:55pm.

While the mayor is still fighting for changing the regulation of rental suites across the city, the majority of city council seems dead set against easing rules for renting out basement suites in areas of Calgary where basement suites are not legal at this time. And for many Calgary residents, the lack of change in this area is just the way they want it to stay. 

Due to disagreement by the majority of city council, the changes to restrictions on secondary suites have been thoroughly thwarted thus far. All of the council except for the mayor and two aldermen are firmly against the changes and this stance is not likely to change, according to Alderman Druh Farrell. Calgarians should not expect any change in the position on the secondary suite issue without at least an election that results in changes to the composition of city council.

While it was thought that a referendum on the topic during the next election could help to alleviate the discord surrounding this issue, the vote would not actually be legally binding and could open up the city to legal troubles in the future if they pushed forward with the regulation changes without a more binding agreement. To change the rules, Calgary city council needs to have a public hearing with all attending city council members being open to debate and making an informed decision on the matter.

In all of this disagreement at city hall, it is interesting to note that in the public opinion poll done this spring by students at the University of Calgary of almost 1600 residents from seven different wards, there was support for the citywide changes by 79% of the Calgary residents polled.

From the poll, Calgarians expressed the most concern with building & fire code compliance and parking issues; though the majority of residents polled also agreed that the most important consideration is in the safety of tenants who reside in these secondary suites. How many of the polled residents expressing an approval over the possible changes who actually live in the R1 residential areas which would be affected is another matter altogether.

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