$52M debate rages on at Calgary city council

Mayor Naheed Nenshi's proposal to spend $52 million in each of the next two years to repair flood damages won't be unanimously backed by city council.

Secondary suites, Stadium Shopping Centre also part of marathon meeting for Calgary city council

City council plans to debate how to spend $52 million in unused tax revenue later this week in a marathon meeting. 2:46

Mayor Naheed Nenshi's proposal to spend $52 million in each of the next two years to repair flood damages won't be unanimously backed by city council.

Council has to decide what to do with tax room vacated by the province when it lowered the education tax last spring.

Nenshi wants to use the money for flood damages not covered by the federal and provincial governments.

He wants any unused portion of the fund to go towards flood protection efforts.

However, some aldermen say the move is unnecessary. They're calling for a property tax reduction as the city has $300 million in reserve funds it can tap for flood costs.

Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart says Calgarians should get that money back so they can use it as they wish.

More than half of the 10,000 Calgarians who took part in a city consultation on the $52 million in tax room said council should use the money to cut taxes, but that consultation happened before last month's flood.

The topic is expected to come up for debate at council later this week.

Stadium shopping, secondary suites 

Council had to wade through more than 2,100 pages as they tried to catch up on issues put off since floodwaters hit the city June 20.

The mayor and alderman met in the northeast for a makeshift council meeting, as repairs continue at the flood-damaged City Hall building.

Council spent the majority of the afternoon debating an emergency rezoning bylaw that would allow for secondary suites. Many alderman thought the topic timely as some residents left homeless by the floods continue to search for a place to live in Calgary's tight rental market. 

The motion was defeated because of a lack of information.

Council plans to discuss the redevelopment of a northwest strip mall Tuesday as the city looks at a new area redevelopment plan for the Stadium Shopping Centre.

If approved, it would clear the way for much greater density on the site.

But residents of University Heights fear proposed projects — like a high-rise hotel and more office and retail space — will lead to traffic jams in their community.

The developer says it still has not drawn up specific proposals, but dozens of people have indicated they want to speak against the redevelopment plan.

"I often talk about derelict strip malls, and what is possible on those sites where you can still have your Mac's Store and your pizza shop — but perhaps have something else: places for seniors to live, places for young people to live and so on," said Nenshi. "It feels like this one went a little bit off the rails."