News / Calgary

Survivor, suites edition: Calgary councillors creating behind the scenes alliances on reform

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said a notice of motion for the latest suite reform idea is coming to Calgary in a couple of weeks

City councillors (L-R) Shane Keating, Ray Jones, Peter DeMong, Diane Colley-Urquhart, Gian Carlo-Carra (behind) and Jeromy Farkas along with Mayor Naheed Nenshi (centre) gather for a group photo after being sworn in.

ELIZABETH CAMERON / for Metro

City councillors (L-R) Shane Keating, Ray Jones, Peter DeMong, Diane Colley-Urquhart, Gian Carlo-Carra (behind) and Jeromy Farkas along with Mayor Naheed Nenshi (centre) gather for a group photo after being sworn in.

The new Calgary city council seems sweet on some sort of suite reform – and soon.

On Wednesday, the third day of budgetary deliberations, Coun. Shane Keating prodded administration with secondary suite questions to get down to the nitty-gritty of how much it was costing the strapped City of Calgary to continue waiving fees.

As it turns out, each secondary suite application dings city coffers $5,000 – and $1,500 of that is eaten up by Municipal Government Act-required advertising fees alone.

"If this went into administration you'd have a process that would lead you to an administration decision," said the city's planning and development GM Stuart Dalgleish​.

"Logic would say that because you're stopping the process early you'd wind up with a reduction."

With a $3,000 administration expenditure on a review process, advertising at $1,500, administration expenditure through the public hearing process at $200 to $250 and for the council time is another $250. Annually, the city is passing up $750,000 in fees to give suites a free permitting application process.

"It comes back to the stalemate we've had in the past," said Keating.

"Do it my way or I don't want anything to do with it. I'm trying to point out over and over and over again that if you're going to solve this issue it's going to be a compromise."

And compromise council will. It seems currently there are alliances going on behind the scenes to create a secondary suite notice of motion. Council newbies George Chahal and Jeromy Farkas have been in talks, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi said something is coming "soonish" to fix the suite pain.

"I am absolutely certain you will see a notice of motion in the next few weeks concerning secondary suites," said Nenshi. "This is a little bit of sausage making, but I can let you in on it. Every member of council is interested in reform and fixing the situation, the question is, as it has always been: how?"

Personally, Nenshi said he is in favour of a "skinny solution," by which he means making suites a discretionary use anywhere.

"Reform is desperately needed," said Chahal. "We need to reduce red tape, council needs to stop dealing with these on a case-by-case issue. We need to make it easy for Calgarians to get through the process, that's the big problem I have."

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