March 13, 2018 7:52 pm

Calgary city councillors not finished with secondary suite applications just yet

A file photo of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.


It will be several more months before secondary suite applications are taken off the plate of Calgary City Council.

After a marathon 13-hour meeting on Monday, council voted to have city administration handle the applications through a development permit process, however, about 100 more applications will be coming to city council in each of the next three months until June.

READ MORE: Marathon meeting as Calgary city council talks secondary suites

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Those applications have been in the system for months when council asked administration to come up with a way for the controversial issue to be taken off of its agenda.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says people could withdraw their applications and go through the new process, however, he says people may want to stick with getting a decision from council.

“If council approves it, a basement suite becomes a permitted use, which means it cannot be appealed,” he said. “So if you’re in the process, and you think council is likely to pass it, you might want to continue.”

Decisions made by city administration can be appealed to the Calgary Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

There is the possibility that someone might want city council to adjudicate their secondary suite application in the future, but the mayor says that doesn’t make financial sense.

“We now put in a quite a big fee to ask for a land-use change, so I imagine that going forward, after the ones that are in the system, it will be very rare for someone to come in and apply for that to city council. They’ll still have the option, but I can’t imagine why you would.”

Asking for a land-use zoning change requires a fee of $5,000 while applying for a development permit is only a few hundred dollars.

After failing to get consensus on city council — for his entire time as mayor — on the issue of secondary suites, Nenshi believes the new faces on council pushed the ball over the goal line.”

Obviously, without those three, this would not have passed and so that was incredibly important.”

The vote was 9 to 6 in favour of making the change with secondary suites and two of the new city councillor — Jyoti Gondek and George Chahal — replaced councillors who in the past had voted against secondary suite reforms.

On Tuesday, city administrators told reporters the guidelines and criteria to be approved for a secondary suite remain the same except one level of approval at city council has been taken away.

“They’ll just have to make a development permit application to administration and administration will review the application based on the planning merit,” said Lisa Khan, a growth strategies coordinator with the City of Calgary. “We’ll put a sign up on people’s lawns that indicates this is happening and we’ll be looking at things like parking, making sure each application has the on-site parking that’s required and amenity space and access.”

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