Home builders' group looks to end rift with Calgary mayor
Naheed Nenshi's office suspends association from city dealings for 'misleading' comments
The Calgary head of the Canadian Home Builders' Association says while he doesn't plan to apologize for comments made last month about future development concerns, he hopes to meet with Mayor Naheed Nenshi to clarify his statements that he says were taken out of context.
Last week Nenshi’s office told Charron Ungar, president of the association's Calgary region, that his group has been suspended from participating in all city hall proceedings.
That suspension will last until Ungar provides a written apology for "inaccurate assertions" he made about the city imposing a suburban development freeze, a letter from Nenshi’s chief of staff Chima Nkemdirim said.
Those comments were made last month at a homebuilders’ association dinner.
Ungar told reporters on Monday that his comments have been taken out of context and he plans to meet with Nenshi about the matter on Tuesday to ensure his association "maintains its seat at the table."
"There is no apology that is going to be coming from my statements, because I stand behind everything that I said," he said.
Future growth concerns
Ungar said he was reacting to the suggestion by a city manager that only two new suburbs will be built in Calgary over the next 10 years.
"I believe we would have significant challenges if those are the only greenfield communities that will be put forward for service lots in the next 10 years. That would pose significant challenges to the development industry in the city," he said.
Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart has also questioned whether the mayor’s office has the full story.
"I really feel that Mayor Nenshi hasn't been fully informed about really what happened at that home builders’ dinner. And I think comments that the president of the home builders' association made were taken out of context," she said.
Colley-Urquhart said the issue demonstrates that opinions are very divided about how Calgary’s growth should be managed.
The relationship between the city and the builders needs to be fixed, she added.
"We are building a great city. We don't want to scare off all the developers so they build these communities outside our borders, where we don't get the tax base anyway. That has slowly been happening now for the last year or so," she said.
Council went behind closed doors on Monday afternoon to review the decision to suspend the builders' group from city deliberations.