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Calgary councillors want investigation into federal housing money, rezoning decision

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Two weeks after city-wide zoning changes were approved, a trio of Calgary councillors want to know whether Ottawa's promised funding had any influence over the decision to make blanket land-use changes.

Councillors Dan McLean, Sonya Sharp and Andre Chabot have signalled an intention to file a complaint with the city's auditor to look into how the deal for federal dollars came about and whether there were any secret meetings regarding the ongoing debate about blanket rezoning.

"(We want) to see if there was any conversations with federal ministers, or the prime minister himself, saying, 'Do this or you don't get that (funding),'" McLean said Tuesday.

"I'm not saying there's any wrongdoing here but I think the public deserves, on something this important, just a really good third-party report."

At issue is the $228-million commitment from the federal government to Calgary through its Housing Accelerator Fund.

The money was announced last November as part of the effort to increase housing supply.

"We just want to know a timeline of conversations of who, what, when, where and what came forward to council," Sharp said.

The official complaint has yet to be filed and it's unclear who exactly the complaint will be filed against.

The federal money to Calgary will come in four instalments of just over $57 million and will be released if certain milestones are reached.

Officials, pointing at the public contract, say most of the initiatives have already been started or completed by the city.

The overall requirements for the Housing Accelerator Fund money include Calgary increasing its housing supply by nearly 42,000 housing units by 2026.

That goal could be achieved through a number of initiatives, including by improving the "existing regulatory review and approval process," "undertaking land-use bylaw amendments" and an effort to "streamline approvals to increase housing supply," the contract states.

"This is all tied to delivery of 41,000 units using the various tools that we indicated within that application. One thing that we indicated in there was that we would attempt to do a zoning change," Mayor Jyoti Gondek said.

"The one thing I did read somewhere is that there were secret meetings with the federal government and that there's secret meetings of council that everyone wasn't invited to. That's not a thing, so I have no idea what kind of investigation they're talking about." 

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