By Fabian Mayer, September 25 2014 —
Calgary city council failed to vote on a motion to change secondary suite regulations in four inner-city wards on Monday, Sept. 22. Council delayed the vote until December because one of the councillors advocating reform was out of the country.
If council approves the proposal, city administrators would have to draw up a new bylaw that would likely be voted on this spring.
Several councillors recently changed their stance on secondary suites. Eight showed support for changing suite regulations in wards 7, 8, 9 and 11 as well as in areas within 600 metres of major transit routes. These include the four councillors representing the affected wards, as well as mayor Naheed Nenshi, Coun. Shane Keating, Coun. Joe Magliocca and Coun. Diane Colley-Urquart.
Keating, Magliocca and Colley-Urquart all voted against changing secondary suite regulations in the past.
University of Calgary Students’ Union vice-president external Levi Nilson has lobbied councillors on the issue for months. He said he’s happy more councillors are on board with an important student issue.
“It’s great that we have a majority on council willing to support some sort of reform. If we have to wait a couple months, I’m fine with that,” Nilson said.
Calgarians for Secondary Suites has a petition on its website and over 1,500 likes on their Facebook page. Nilson will meet with councillors to keep the issue in the spotlight between now and December.
“We want to make sure the petition we have now continues to get attention and we want to continue to shore up stakeholder support,” Nilson said.
Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell is one of the most vocal advocates for changing secondary suite regulations.
“I think there’s a general recognition that the status quo isn’t working, so individual members of council are trying to find solutions. It’s important that we work together to find something that we are all willing to live with,” Farrell said.
Farrell believes public support for secondary suites has been key in swaying the councillors who changed their mind on the issue.
Groups like the Manning Foundation, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the SU and many others have endorsed secondary suite reforms.
“Never in my years on council have I seen a more varied group of Calgarians come together on a single issue,” Farrell said.