Hello all,

I’d like to provide some updates on the Secondary Suites blanket rezoning proposal for Wards 7,8,9, and 11.

After a marathon City Council session on May 12, 2015, council members gave First Reading to an amended Motion. The issue was sent back to city administration for further details and amendments, and will be voted on again on June 29, 2015. There will be no further public debate, but your opinions still count. All 14 City Councillors will vote on this issue, so your letters are more important now than ever before. If this passes on June 29, our communities will be changed forever, so it is important that you are aware of all aspects of the current proposal: if you are not happy with it, then make your opinion known.

It’s a complicated issue. Our group, NOT4RZ (Not 4 Rezoning), has been formed in an attempt to let ward residents know what this blanket rezoning really means. We have found that few residents actually even know about it, and if they do, they do not realize how the changes might affect their communities.

It is important to note that NOT4RZ members are not opposed to all secondary suites. We are opposed to a process whereby 35,395 homes in four communities will lose their current R-1 or RC-1 (single family) land use designations, without consensus or approval of those residents. There have been inadequate public consultations or information sessions for such a large-scale permanent zoning change.

Many homeowners have told us they would not be opposed to their neighbor renting out their basement to a single tenant, as it would not really affect them. However, the homeowner / landlord does not have to live in the home, and can in fact rent out both the main floor and the basement as two separate units to two separate groups of people. At that point, the home is acting as a de facto duplex, and that was never the intention of a secondary suite. Also, a secondary suite could also be a second-storey dwelling over an existing garage, or a separate garden suite in the backyard. The prospect of an investor buying the property next to you, adding a second storey to the garage, then renting out both the home and the garage unit is a great deal different than a homeowner renting out to a single tenant in his basement.

In addition to the zoning change, there are other “minor” changes that will also be included, and again, we have consistently found that very few people in Wards 7,8,9 or 11 are even aware of these additional revisions. For example, the current minimum land parcel widths, depths and total area would be removed, allowing secondary suite applications on lots that were previously considered too small. The maximum size of a suite floor area would also be removed: this would allow for larger suites with multiple bedrooms and multiple tenants. (The attached document provides further details.)

We are also opposed to a blanket rezoning that makes it easier to add more secondary suites (whether legal or illegal) without addressing current issues and problems that already exist. Current estimates of the number of suites in Calgary range from a low of 16,000 to a more likely estimate of 50,000. There are 550 legal suites. That is not an error: in the entire city, the number of legal suites with proper zoning, development and building permits is only 550. Making it easier to add more before even beginning to tackle the current illegal or non-compliant suites is highly questionable.

We have received letters from many people with stories about the problems they have with existing suites in their neighborhoods. Common issues include a lack of property or home maintenance, parking concerns, noise or disruption from neighbors, and a lack of bylaw enforcement when problems are reported. Some of these issues are not unique to secondary suites, but the letters we’ve received have been about homes that became a problem only when converted into mostly-illegal suites. We would like to see strong enforcement, a licensing requirement (whereby “bad” suites could be removed), and a home-owner occupancy requirement.

Click here to download a document with Frequently Asked Questions. It is lengthy, but please take the time to read it because it covers a broad range of questions.

We feel that all residents of Ward 7, 8, 9 and 11 should be fully aware of the blanket rezoning implications so they can decide for themselves whether or not they are in favor of this proposal.

This website has further details and links to other articles and information. Click here if you would like to be added to our list. Please forward this mail and share it with your neighbors.

Thank you,

Melanie Swailes

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