Naheed Nenshi says it’s time for council to stop treating secondary suites as a political football and address the contentious issue head-on. 

Council shelved the latest proposal to debate the topic on Monday, leaving in place a case-by-case approval process that Calgary’s mayor calls time-consuming and arbitrary.

“Council’s really got to come to terms with this. What we've created is not right, it's not fair, it's not ethical, it's not moral,” he said.

Coun. Druh Farrell, along with three other inner-city members of council and the mayor, had planned to bring forward a motion this week to make secondary suites legal in certain parts of the city, including their own wards. 

But Farrell asked that it be dropped from the agenda so she can build more public support for the idea and bring it back to council in September. 

Council voted in 2011 to allow secondary suites in any new communities built on the outskirts of Calgary, but proposals to open the rest of the city to them have so far been rejected.

Last year, council agreed to waive the $4,500 re-zoning application fee for a legal secondary suite, encouraging more applicants to make their pitch before council.

“We are condemning people to live in these illegal suites because, you know, not to cast aspersions on any landowners that we saw today, but if we say no to a legal suite, the odds are there will be an illegal suite there,” Nenshi said.

“People deserve a safe and decent place to live and we have to regulate for people's safety and council must come to terms with this. It's not a political football anymore, we're talking about people's lives.”

Council will go back to the issue on Sept. 22.