Council allows non-conforming suites in post-flood market

City council has potentially cleared the way for hundreds of secondary suites damaged when floodwaters hit Calgary in June to return to the market.

Calgary renters face tight market after hundreds of units damaged in flood

City council continued to debate the future of secondary suites in Calgary as they tried to tackle solutions for the city's current rental crunch in a post-flood market. (CBC)

City council spent several hours today talking about the always contentious issue of secondary suites in Calgary.

Council agreed to make it easier for flood-damaged secondary suites to hopefully return to the market. It's an estimated 500 secondary suites were damaged by June's flood.

Many of these were non-conforming suites, which means they were around long before current secondary suite rules came into force.

Some aldermen feared the owners of those suites would not be interested in paying to apply for the rezoning they need to legally get those units back in the rental pool.

Council agreed today to allow those pre-existing suites to continue on without requiring rezoning provided owners make them safe under the city's building code.

Council also agreed to waive the $4,500 cost of applying for a legal secondary suite.

But some aldermen, like Ward 7's Druh Farrell, say they don't even know how many homeowners would take advantage of the offer, but getting any suites back in the market will help given the shortage of rental units.

"[It] might not last forever but we're just trying to remove the barriers around those," she said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi called today's moves just small steps to allowing more secondary suites. He would prefer to eliminate all zoning restrictions city-wide — something a majority of council has repeatedly rejected.

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