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Calgary rezoning debate continues into day three

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Three days into Calgary's public hearing on proposed rezoning and nearly 200 speakers later, some councillors say there's a clear pattern when it comes to what they're hearing from people presenting.

"Typically younger Calgarians under the age of 50 are coming out in support (of proposed blanket rezoning) and we're seeing a lot of older Calgarians, homeowners over the age of 50, speaking against," said Jasmine Mian, the ward 3 councillor.

"I think it's because they have had very different lived experiences with the housing market. And younger people typically want to see change and are demanding us to take action," she said.

Panels of young people, including several representing post-secondary students, showed up at City Hall on Wednesday to voice their support for rezoning to R-CG.

"Young people are denied agency over housing choices and subsequently the direction of our lives," said Hanna Crisostomo, a University of Calgary student and representative with the Urban Calgary Students Association.

Crisostomo presented a letter to council signed by 146 students who supported blanket rezoning.

"The decision to embrace change will mean the difference between building a resilient city for the future, or continuing down the path where one in five Calgarians cannot afford their housing," she said.

MAJORITY AGAINST

Still, the vast majority of feedback the city has received on the rezoning issue has been in opposition. Speaker after speaker lined up Wednesday to call on council to vote down blanket rezoning, citing concerns over the impacts it could have on community character and parking.

"Older people tend to want to move into quieter communities -- single-family residential, maybe with fewer neighbours," said Coun. Andre Chabot.

"But if you're younger and you're raising a young family, you want to be in a higher density," he added.

It will still be days before council will start its debate and present amendments over proposed changes. Councillors say they will need seek to find a balance as it tries to implement its housing strategy.

Statistics from city administration estimates one in five Calgarians struggle with housing affordability and upzoning, if passed, could add about 1,500 homes per year by streamlining the process.

 "I'm looking at what we do to make sure that housing is in good supply for everyone in our city, not just right now, but well into the future," said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

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