Secondary suite bylaw passes first reading

Watch Above: The debate into secondary suites in Calgary’s inner city has raged for years, but late Tuesday night there was an important victory. Doug Vaessen reports.

CALGARY – After 10 hours of debate, city councillors have taken one step towards legalizing secondary suites in some Calgary communities.

“Council has been reluctant to go for the touchdown on this and do what every other city in Calgary already has done.  But last night we achieved a very important first down,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

The marathon debate at City Hall on Monday ended with a new bylaw passing first reading. At this point, the bylaw will only apply to inner-city Wards 7, 8, 9 and 11.

The contentious issue will head back to council in June for two more votes.

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The bylaw comes with the following conditions:

• Landlords would have to notify residents that live in the area;
• The city would still have discretionary power to approve or deny applications;
• Landlords would have to apply for a business licence.
The conditions are needed to protect homeowners in R1 zones (single family dwellings) where the secondary suites are currently prohibited, said councillor Shane Keating.

“The number one complaint—we hear often about unruly tenants or landlords that don’t look after the property. If you license it the same as any other business in the city, if they are not following up on what is a good neighbours practice, the licence is taken away and they can’t have their secondary suite.”

The changes are expected back at council in June for final approval once the city has a chance to study the bylaw.

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It’s been a long and contentious fight to allow more legal secondary suites in the city, but Nenshi said he hopes it’s just the start of things to come.

“I think it’s a very good compromise. Frankly it’s a compromise I am surprised council has made, but I think it’s a good compromise and hope council will give second and third readings to the bylaw and finalize it in June.”

With files from Jenna Freeman

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