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Calgary takes 'tremendous step forward' on secondary suites

After years of attempts at reform, and countless hours spent debating individual applications at Calgary city council, secondary suites are one significant step closer to being allowed city-wide.

New rules would end the process of pleading before city council for a zoning change

Naheed Nenshi promised secondary suite reform during his first campaign in 2010. Council voted for reforms on Monday. (CBC)

After years of attempts at reform, and countless hours spent debating individual applications at Calgary city council, secondary suites are one significant step closer to being allowed city-wide.

A majority of councillors — 10 to 5 — voted to allow suites as a discretionary use in all areas of Calgary, meaning applicants will no longer have to plead their case directly to councillors and the mayor.

Under proposed rules, the new process will involve filling out a form that will be processed by the planning department. Neighbours can still appeal a development permit once it's given, but the drama will no longer play out in public view.  

Not finalized

Monday's vote means administration will have to draw up a new bylaw, which will then be debated by city council, likely in March. 

"While nothing is finalized until the bylaw is done — and I hope that the bylaw will come in the early part of next year — this is a tremendous step forward," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who promised secondary suite reform during his first campaign in 2010.

"I am so very happy today that council has voted with an overwhelming majority to fix this process."

'Biggest failure'

Nenshi said there was a lot of work behind the scenes to draft the motion and to get it to the council floor with strong support. 

"Basically, you just saw a lot of people saying this was the biggest failure of the previous two councils and this new council needs to get it right, right at the beginning, so I'm so pleased about that," he said. 

Council voted to not schedule any secondary suite hearings until its March 2018 public hearing, but it's anticipated council will have voted on the bylaw amendment before that meeting is held.

With files from Scott Dippel