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Calgary councillors say approval for secondary suites is flawed

Study released on secondary suite approval process.
Study released on secondary suite approval process. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

Each year more secondary suites are being approved in Calgary, but two city councillors say the process isn’t working.

Councillors Druh Farrell and Brian Pincott have shared findings from a study that shows that over three years, 83 per cent of secondary suite proposals heard by council were approved.

READ MORE: Exclusive: majority of Calgarians support secondary suites according to poll

The study shows city council’s decision-making process for 265 secondary suite applications between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2016.

Pincott, councillor for Ward 11, said members of city council were influenced by compelling personal stories.

“Personal stories should not be relevant to council’s decisions,” Pincott said. “At council, we continually say that applicants do not have to share personal details, nor are they relevant, and yet, they appear to sway council decision.”

Speaking to media Thursday morning, Pincott said council should only approve suites based on planning principles.

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“That feeling that it’s a bit of a crap shoot for applicants is actually true,” he said.

“I think it should be an election issue and I think the next city council should just say very quickly they are permitted use for everybody.”

The research suggests that preference for approved applications is awarded to applicants with compelling personal stories, rather than on actual planning principles.

READ MORE: City councillors reject proposal to allow secondary suites in inner-city

Along with Pincott, councillor Farrell wants to see the process streamlined.

“City council’s reasons for refusal were random, rather than based on planning rationale,” Farrell said.

The number of secondary suite applications has increased year-over-year, with 37 in 2014, 67 in 2015, and 161 in 2016.