News / Calgary

Suite surrender: City planning one month ahead for Calgary's debate

Major changes could come to the city's secondary suite process in March

A secondary suite in Calgary in November, 2017.

Jennifer Friesen / for Metro

A secondary suite in Calgary in November, 2017.

It's the secondary suite meeting to end all secondary suite meetings — and the city is trying to get citizens prepared nearly a month in advance.

On March 12, Council will debate a major change in the secondary suite process which, if passed, would directly affect 170,000 land owners in Calgary. And because of the topic's contentious history in Calgary, the city is expecting a long and heated public debate over any changes.

"This could take a considerable amount of time," said the city's Growth Strategy Coordinator Lisa Khan. "We really encourage folks to do a written submission to council. If they do it ahead of time and submit it ... if people don't want to come down to city hall or are worried about how long that might take, that's an option."

The proposal is to change all R-C1 R-1 and RC-1L land-use districts to allow secondary suites under a discretionary use. This means property owners would have the ability to develop suites without city council approval. They would still work through the planning and development process the City of Calgary already has in place by applying for development and building permits.

The city has mailed out letters to land owners and are asking them to write submissions before March 5 with any concerns, or attend and present to council. The city has also made an online tool for Calgarians to check if their address will be affected.

Looking back on public submissions, councillors are in for a treat in March as they review their constituents' thoughts on any changes to the suite bylaws. A quick read through the city's public submission archives hints at what's to come: parking complaints, neighbour disputes and a strong resistance to change in single-family detached home neighbourhoods – just to name a few.

But Colleen Muraski welcomes the changes. She plans to build a carriage home and is nearing retirement. In her neighbourhood there are already a few suite builds, and she's antsy to get through the process herself.

"There's one in the neighbourhood, right in behind me, he's got one on his garage so I kind of figured if he's got one there should be allowances for the rest of us," she said. "Of course, according to your neighbours, because they can quash everything."

Muraski said councillors have better things to do with their lives than listen to suite applications, while those in the city's planning department have the expertise and should make land use decisions.

"It should be in the hands of the people that actually do the work," Muraski said.

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