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Calgary mayor, community associations meet over proposed zoning changes

Click to play video: 'Newcomers to Calgary and blanket rezoning'
Newcomers to Calgary and blanket rezoning
WATCH ABOVE: Anila Umar with the Centre for Newcomers joins Global News Calgary to weigh in on housing and affordability ahead of next week’s hearings on the controversial, city-wide, blanket rezoning proposal. – Apr 20, 2024

It was a busy day at city hall on Saturday, as the mayor met with several concerned Calgarians about proposed zoning changes.

The proposed changes are part of the city’s housing strategy and would allow for more density, aimed at increasing the supply of housing.

After receiving a letter from community associations concerned about the plan, Mayor Jyoti Gondek met Saturday with dozens of community association representatives.

“It was an invaluable opportunity for open dialogue, where I listened to their concerns and perspectives,” Gondek said in a statement Saturday. “The representatives shared with me the feedback they have been receiving from their respective communities regarding how standardizing zoning could impact neighbourhoods.

“I heard that they were in support of increasing density, but how that density is developed is a concern. I also heard that the community context that development takes … matters. Insights like these allow me to better understand the diverse needs and priorities of all Calgarians.”

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Gondek said she will be sharing the community members’ perspectives with city administration and her council colleagues.

Click to play video: 'Mayor Jyoti Gondek talks about upcoming public hearing on blanket rezoning'
Mayor Jyoti Gondek talks about upcoming public hearing on blanket rezoning

More than 40 community associations sent a letter to the mayor and council last week outlining their concerns with the proposed changes.

Lakeside community president Jon Himmens said he believes blanket rezoning has the potential to make things worse for Calgary neighbourhoods.

“It needs to be more planned,” Himmens told Global News after the meeting on Saturday.

“What we should have is local area plans that support densification that works in each community rather than a blanket ban. Our primary concern is builders will just come in and will seek to make money instead of properly and strategically designing neighbourhoods.”

Himmens acknowledges there needs to be densification, including affordable housing, but maintains it should be done on a community-by-community basis.

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“I think it’s easy to be accused of being a, ‘not in my backyard’ but that’s really not the case. We support densification but it has to be done properly,” Himmens said.

“We want to leave a community for generations that will never know us that they’re proud of and we don’t want Calgary to become one big municipal block. We want different communities to have different aspects and history and not to get washed away by pure construction.”

Himmens said the mayor listened to the community members’ concerns and was very respectful, adding it was a productive meeting.

“It was a serious meeting but I think she took away our opinion on behalf of 53 communities that blanket rezoning is not an effective solution.”

More than 600 people have signed up to speak at a public hearing about the proposed rezoning, which starts Monday at city hall. The public hearing is expected to last several days.

“Our hope is that at the end of this, they decide that they have not received enough information to make a decision and it is passed back to administration,” Himmens said.

— with files from Craig Momney, Global News

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