Proposal of Secondary Suites in Calgary has drawn up a heated debate in our city hall, but has it in the public?
Relaxing the rules on secondary suites was being discussed by our Mayor Nenshi and Aldermen once again this past Monday. Nothing has come of the discussions aside from a couple Aldermen making statements like “unconstitutional” to allow suites everywhere by Ald. Richard Pootmans. Claiming this would trigger a challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada – I’m with Nenshi on the thoughts of this being a ludicrous statement – especially considering Calgary is one of the last cities in Canada to adopt this proposal.
Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra called it “environmental racism” against the renters. Huh? That’s quite the card to pull out in my opinion – even you though you support suites – I’m confused by that statement.
I understand both sides of this issue very well. I am on the side of our Mayor and do believe any home falling within the guidelines proposed can have a suite.
Aside from a small group who have been interviewed by the media, I have not actually spoken to anyone opposed to this allowance. I have spoken to many people specifically on this topic and not one has been against it. Everyone has concerns – as would I if a suite was being abused – but that is the point of this. Relax the rules and the city will have better control over the suites.
There are tens of thousands of illegal secondary suites in Calgary as it is. The vast majority are run well with good landlords and good tenants, with neighbours who either are unaware or have no issues with the secondary suite.
Unfortunately, there are a few suites in our city that are not being looked after well. If a tenant complains about their landlord for anything, the only recourse the city has is to shut the suite down and evict the tenant. Under Mayor Nenshi’s vision, the city would at least have something to work with as opposed to simply shutting the suite down and forcing the renter out.
Any home owners who wants to have a suite will have to go through an application process and will have to abide by 3 sets of criteria.
1) Must meet Fire Safety Codes – to give you an idea look at the current requirements for secondary suitesprovided by the City of Calgary.
2) Off Street Parking so the suite is not impeding the neighbours ability to park near their home. This may be overlooked providing the property is within a short distance to transit.
3) Owners must reside in the main living area of the property.
I recommend reviewing Mayor Nenshi’s video discussionon this topic to learn more.
Interesting facts here, results to a survey completed by the Student’s Union at the University of Calgary. This was conducted in February and March of 2011 with an overwhelming show of support to the allowance of suites in a variety of city wards.
These results are not being reflected by our city aldermen who are opposing the secondary suites. Why is that? They seem to be listening to a few, not the whole. And the few do not have the right to make decisions to the whole.
The supporting voices need to be heard, so if you are in support of the secondary suites you should contact your local alderman to let them know.