Secondary Suite Information

Below is a note provided by the Riverbend Community Association President.  This is a complicated issue with strong sides for and against.  The below is posted for information only, it is up to individuals to have an informed decision and to make their own voices heard.

Westgate CA


May 14, 2015

Secondary Suite Bylaw Amendments

Your property will be rezoned if you don't act now!

What does this mean to you?  If you are a single family home owner, an R-1 or RC-1 lot owner in Wards 7, 8, 9 or 11, a motion has been put to City Council that will rezone your property. Once the changes are put in place, they will be permanent. What was once a single family residential area, would become an area where suites would also be allowed. Keep in mind that this redesignation would apply only within these four wards, and they will apply to each home currently within those wards (not on a community basis). Should ward boundaries change in the future, the redesignation would still apply on the current basis. Many Councillors are viewing this as a first step to the eventual redesignation of all single family homes in Calgary to be eligible for construction of a Secondary Suite.

Your neighbors have brought their concerns before Council only to be disregarded. Concerns included:

- an added burden on our older infrastructure (sewer lines that are now below code and attacked by tree roots have the potential to back-up costing all homeowners on a street),

- added housing density bringing an associated increase in traffic and parking issues,

- the possibility of absentee landlords and untended rental properties becoming 'secondary suite apartment buildings' adjacent to single family homes, and other concerns.

If you currently live in Ward 14, your Ward will likely face the same redesignation at some time in the coming years. It is important to let your Councillor know how you feel about the proposal. Also contact your Community Association so they know if their residents are for or against the proposed land use redesignation to allow suites.

Say NO to this unfair motion before June 29th, the date of the vote before City Council that targets only selected wards for rezoning. There is no public meeting or debate on this issue from here forward, but you can call and write to your councillor, and all other councillors who will be voting on the proposal as well. Get the message out to neighbors, and if you are able, join the community associations and supporters who will be posting information on a website about how you can help make a difference.

Whether or not to allow secondary suites in all areas of Calgary has been debated by City Council well over 30 times, but a city-wide consensus has never been reached. If you own an R-1 or RC-1 (single-family) home in Wards 7, 8, 9 or 11, a proposal by the Planning Commission and City Council will affect your property, if passed. A total of 35,395 homes would be changed through a Land Use Redesignation.

This current proposal targets four wards whose councillors are highly in favor of these amendments and would like to see this motion approved. This is the first step towards allowing secondary suites in all current single-family neighborhoods throughout the entire city. Currently, secondary suites are not a permitted use in all R-1 or RC-1 properties, and a Land Use Redesignation before City Council would be required in order to apply for a secondary suite.

If this motion is passed, instead of the current strictly single family permitted use, all homes within these four wards would be eligible for a secondary suite, whether a basement suite, and over-the-garage suite or a backyard suite. Building and development permits would still be required for a legal secondary suite, but there would be no question as to the land designation.

In addition, current minimum land parcel widths and depths would be removed, allowing secondary suite applications on properties where they currently would not meet the minimum standards. The removal of the minimum lot widths would affect R-C2 properties as well, and where originally two dwelling units were allowed, four would now be permitted on the same property.

There is no requirement for the homeowner to live in the property, so a single house could be rented out to two different sets of tenants.

City Council debated the motion in a 10-hour session on May 12, 2015. The public was invited to speak at the meeting, both for and against the proposal. City Council then drafted two changes to the Bylaw, gave first reading to that bylaw, and sent it back to city administration for further details and amendments. The two changes made were to look into creating a licensing system for suite owners (applying only to suites within these four wards, not city-wide), and to make suites a discretionary use instead of a permitted use (a development permit would still be needed).

First reading has been given to the motion, but second and third readings are needed before the motion can go ahead. City Council will vote on this on June 29, 2015. If your voice is to be heard it has to be now, tell councilors to vote NO.


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