A couple of Calgary councillors are trying to get the ball rolling on an idea that could see more people living downtown. The method: converting existing buildings into residences.
Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison is presenting a notice of motion to city council Tuesday that would direct city administration “to explore the potential creation of regulatory and financial investment incentives for the development of new high-density residential complexes and the conversion of office buildings.”
Council is expected to vote on the motion on Tuesday.
Davison calls it a “bold solution” to attract investment downtown.
“Encouraging an active and vibrant population base in the downtown is critical for the success of long-term city infrastructure investments, for preserving property values and for providing the city with a more stable stream of tax revenue,” Davison said in a statement.
CBRE’s Oct. 13 report on downtown office space showed vacancy at 28.7 per cent, the highest since 2006.
Some developers have already redeveloped downtown office space into residential property.
Strategic Group is one that has been successful in transforming offices into apartments in Calgary, with Cube in the Beltline. According to Strategic’s website, they have a number of similar projects in both Edmonton and Calgary.
Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell, whose ward includes large amounts of downtown Calgary, is a co-sponsoring councillor on the motion.
Farrell is sure ideas like this will help the downtown woes.
“With support from my colleagues, we can, and will, reinvent downtown and adapt to the changing economic environment for a thriving Calgary,” Farrell tweeted Monday.
If passed by council, city officials will present their findings to the priorities and finance committee by April 2021.
Skip the fees
In another notice of motion, Mayor Naheed Nenshi is seeking to “level the playing field” for local restaurants after they were ordered by the province to stop all in-person dining.
“While these third-party delivery apps — that people use to get food delivered to them — are extremely convenient, they’re also extremely expensive for the restaurant owners,” Nenshi said Monday. “I think most people don’t know that they take up to one-third of your money as a commission.
“And for a lot of restaurants, this is the difference between making money and losing money on every order.”
In Ontario, Doug Ford’s government tabled legislation to cap delivery fees at 15 per cent and set a maximum of 20 per cent for all fees.
New York City recently capped delivery app commission fees at 20 per cent.
The latest public health measures from the Alberta government limited restaurants, bars and cafes to take-out or delivery service only.
“This really could make the difference for them for survival.”
But there’s scant evidence that the substantial app fees are going directly to the drivers, the mayor said.
“This is just like the early days of ridesharing with Uber and so on, in that the money doesn’t seem to be getting to the drivers,” Nenshi said. “I think if it were getting to the drivers, people would be more comfortable.”
Nenshi said he doesn’t want to get into a jurisdictional battle with the province over capping food-delivery app fees, and said the 15 per cent number “has been bandied about.”
“In discussions with the province, they’ve suggested they would like a formal position from the City of Calgary and that’s what I’ll be searching for,” Nenshi said Monday.
The notice of motion, entitled “Requesting the Government of Alberta Consider Capping Food Delivery,” is expected to be discussed Tuesday as the combined meeting of council continues into a second day.
Thursday, Skip the Dishes announced a support package for Alberta restaurants, including rebates on commissions for local, independent restaurants, no commissions for new sign-ups, and reduced commissions for restaurants using their own staff for delivery, among other measures. The measures took effect on Sunday.
–with files from The Canadian Press.