News / Calgary

Secondary suites reform attempt by Coun. Shane Keating fails in 8-7 vote

Changes to current process may have to wait until after 2017 election

Metro File

Calgary City Council spent even more time Monday spinning its wheels on topic of secondary suites.

A plan to reform the secondary suite application process was shot down in an 8-7 vote by Calgary city council Monday.

Even though the reform – put forward by Coun. Shane Keating – seemed like a slam dunk with eight supporters, it failed after Coun. Brian Pincott withdrew his support.

The reform would’ve had two zones within the city where secondary suites would be either allowed, or at the discretion of the city, without the approval of council that is now currently needed.

The plan included a registry for suites, fees for suite owners not living above their suites, and a crackdown on illegal suites after an amnesty period.

After the vote, Keating said council seems unwilling to compromise, despite the efforts he put forward to bring people together.

“Everybody thinks it should be their way. It’s my way or the highway across the board and that’s what has to stop,” he said.

While councillors from all ends of the political spectrum were behind the plan, likewise it had detractors from all sides, too.

Coun. Andre Chabot, who had just seen his own pitch for a plebiscite on secondary suites voted down, questioned the finer details of the plan: When and how could licences for suites be revoked? Would they apply to the home or the homeowner if the house were to sell? How many officers would be needed to crack down on illegal suites?

Other councillors, such as Druh Farrell, suggested it would just add more red tape, by forcing people who want to bring their suites up to code to pay fees.

After the vote was complete, Coun. Jim Stevenson brought forward a motion arising asking council to reinstate the fees applicants must pay when applying for a legal secondary suite.

That motion also failed by an 8-7 vote.

Council had planned to deal with secondary suites after the 2013 election.

At that time the city was in dire need of housing after the flood, but council couldn't come up with a plan to allow suites on a wider scale.

“I am more than willing to take this on the campaign trail,” said Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart, speaking in 2013. “I would like it to come back after the new council is elected.”

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