Louie Villanueva

City council mulls 18-month freeze on secondary suite closures

By Hayden McBennett, November 27 2014 —

Calgary city planners and councilors are considering an 18-month freeze on secondary suite closures.

Ward 10 councilor Andre Chabot motioned to give all suite owners 18 months to bring legal and illegal suites up to standard on Monday, Nov. 17. The proposed 18-month period would be followed by aggressive enforcement for those who fail to comply.

If the motion is approved, owners will have the chance to bring their suites up to code in areas where suites are allowed.

The secondary suite zoning debate has brewed for some time in Calgary. Council was expected to vote to change suite regulations in wards adjacent to universities and public transit routes both in August and November, though the vote was delayed twice and will be held in December.

Inspectors close hundreds of back-yard and basement suites each year in zones where they’re not allowed.

Students’ Union vice-president external Levi Nilson denounced the rationale councilors use to dismiss secondary suites.

“The biggest argument is that secondary suites change the character of the neighbourhood, which is just another way of saying that people don’t like renters. It’s really a BS argument,” Nilson said.

Nilson said the freeze won’t do enough to help students.

“We’re not talking about amnesty to any other suite owners. Giving people the option to get their suites up to code is great but the big thing is that there aren’t enough of those zones out there,” Nilson said.

 

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