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Calgary mayor and council 'incredibly focused' on rezoning plan

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Calgary’s blanket rezoning plan is one of the most contentious issues to face the city in recent years, with a public hearing starting Monday morning.

As of Friday, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek says 675 people are registered to speak, and 5,500 submissions have come through that are now part of the public record.

And now, two residents have gone to court, hoping to force the city to hold a plebiscite.

“I really appreciate the number of people who have gotten engaged through open houses, people who have written in, people who are coming to speak next week,” Gondek told CTV Morning Live.

With the sheer volume of response, Gondek says on Monday they will have to determine the length of meetings and how many days the discussion will last.

“I'm very much looking forward to hearing the perspective of Calgarians around our housing crisis and how this could be a solution,” said Gondek, adding the discussion could even continue into the weekend if needed.

Gondek explained the public hearing is in response to the city’s housing strategy, based on recommendations of the housing and affordability task force.

“We had a team of experts say to us that one of the ways that we can achieve more housing supply in our city is to look at rezoning,” said Gondek.

The conversation is expected to be dominated by the plan to add more high-density housing.

Calgary city council is considering amending its land-use bylaw to allow more density in all communities.

If passed, Calgary's base zoning district would be changed to R-CG, a classification that allows for row homes and duplexes to be built in residential zones.

The city has been gathering feedback on the issue through public information sessions and online webinars over the past few months and officials say, so far, about 70 per cent of respondents have been against the idea.

While there was a belief that passing the amendment was the only way to access $228 million in federal funding for affordable housing, Gondek says the proposed land-use bylaw amendment is not a prerequisite to receive that money.

"That was the housing accelerator fund money that we received from the federal government and the City of Calgary put together an application that was quite fulsome," she said.

"We had several ideas that we felt could help deliver a maximum number of units, housing units into our city, we submitted it, we received the funding."

With more than 60 people moving to Calgary everyday, Gondek says the housing situation needs to be carefully considered.

“We're incredibly focused on making sure that the housing crisis can be addressed with rezoning if that's something that's in the interest of our city.”

A press release regarding the court action read in part:

"In the originating application filed with the Court of King’s Bench, the Applicants seek a review of the Council's decision on the plebiscite, charging that the City Council misapplied several provisions of the Municipal Government Act and deprived owners of properties currently designated R-C1 and R-C2 such as the Applicants, of the current right to a public hearing concerning proposed changes to zoning of their individual property, or to object to the rezoning of neighbouring parcels. They are asking the Court to quash the decision not to hold a plebiscite and for a declaration that the decision was invalid."

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