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Calgary city council passes blanket rezoning after marathon meeting

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UPDATE: See what Danielle Smith thinks of Calgary's move to pass blanket rezoning

 

More than three weeks after a public hearing on blanket rezoning first started at Calgary's city hall, councillors narrowly voted in favour of moving forward with the change to allow for more density in residential areas.

In a 9-6 vote, council approved the contentious item late Tuesday afternoon.

The land-use amendment means the city will transition properties currently zoned as R-C1 districts, which only allow single-detached homes on them, to R-CG to also allow for townhomes and duplexes.

Blanket rezoning still permits single-detached homes to be built but skips the process that required each land-use application to be debated individually.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, speaking to media Tuesday, noted, "I think it's really important to recognize that the housing situation that we're in is dire."

"I think when you have the opportunity to use one of the tools at your service to make things better, it is important that you do so," Gondek said.

"We have 98 different actions that we have been given in a housing strategy. This is but one of them.

"This will allow for more people to live in communities because it's going to offer more diversity of housing, it's going to offer the ability to build row houses or townhouses that come in at a lower price point than a single-detached or a semi-attached home."

Over 100 hours, 736 people spoke to council during the public hearing on the issue.

Nearly 70 per cent of the people who spoke were against blanket rezoning, city officials said.

"I'm disappointed but more importantly, I think three-quarters of Calgarians are disappointed," Coun. Dan McLean said.

Maclean noted, "You've had the majority of council voting against the majority of Calgarians."

Asked if he believes it will be an election issue, he said, "Oh, you bet."

Coun. Andre Chabot has also been opposed to the change.

"I was kind of hoping as it kind of came close in a couple of instances, that a little sober second thought from members of council might have them reconsider their position," he said.

"This is, in my opinion, the worst decision that this council, any council I've ever sat on, has ever made."

Gondek said by passing the change, "We are not forcing anyone to build anything specifically."

"We are simply opening the door for people who would like to build this type of product to do so," she said.

"And we have strengthened what happens at development permit by allowing neighbours and community members to have a say when it comes to height, when it comes to lot coverage, when it comes to where the windows are going to be."

Gondek said the people have been given "say where they actually wanted it."

Tuesday's decision came after two days of debate and proposed amendments to the strategy, including motions to abandon rezoning altogether.

Motions also included efforts to put the issue to a plebiscite or implement blanket rezoning as a pilot project.

All of those were defeated.

Small changes were eventually made to the rezoning item, including a direction to administration to consider privacy impacts on neighbours living directly adjacent to new builds.

Blanket rezoning is one of 98 recommendations within The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy, approved in 2023 to try and address the housing crisis.

https://www.calgary.ca/communities/housing-in-calgary/housing-strategy.html

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