Calgary rental union calls for rent caps amid surging prices

Housing rental increases can be tough for people to handle. Central Calgary Acorn is a tenant union, and they are asking the Alberta government to put rental increase controls in place. Danina Falkenberg reports.

By Logan Stein and Alejandro Melgar

A Calgary tenant union, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), is calling for more rental controls to be introduced to halt the surge of prices during a protest Wednesday morning.

The union is demanding the province cap rental increases to 2 per cent per year, while also tracking the price of every rental unit in Alberta in a registry.

One of those who came to the protest at the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) in downtown Calgary, ACORN member Vanessa Badger, says she moved to Calgary in 1984 with her mother from Grande Prairie.

Badger told CityNews she goes “two or three days without eating” so her son and family can eat.

“I’ll be living on $300 a month. I don’t know how I’m going to afford that. I don’t know,” she said.

“I don’t even know how to do the math on how to pay my bills or buy clothing for my child.”

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Myrl Eddy was there protesting on behalf of her family and says she wants to see rent caps and change in the province.

She currently helps her grandchildren because “they don’t have enough money to even live anymore.”

“There is no way that people can continue to exist. And when you look at the budget that just came out from the UCP, there’s no mention of any money for housing or for dealing with people without a home,” Eddy said.

“I feel sad, frustrated, angry. Any normal feeling for something that’s unjust. It’s a case of human rights.”

She left Alberta in 1996 and worked overseas as the province had “no position for me within healthcare,” but came back 25 years later. She says the province has become “less hopeful.”

“I always thought that Alberta was a pretty comfortable province. I thought it was a province that paid attention to human rights. Housing is a human right, and it doesn’t seem to be that way anymore.” she said.

“I’m sadly disappointed in the province that I returned to.”

Maggy Wlodarczyk, a member of ACORN, told CityNews that rental prices affect everyone across the political spectrum.

“I’m surprised that it hasn’t been made into a bigger issue as of yet. But we are hoping to draw attention to that,” Wlodarczyk said.

She says ACORN wants the registry to track rental prices and for the data to be used to inform “affordable policies and regulations in the future.”

“One thing that we’re noticing in Alberta is that landlords will evict people for maintenance issues that they refuse to fix while the tenant is living there. And then they will not fix the issues, increase the rent and then rent it out to somebody else,” she claims.

“And that’s often where we’re seeing some of the highest rental increases, but as well as people having their rent increased by larger building corporations that are still making a profit, without those rental increasing.”

Read More: Calgary mom struggling to find rental as a single parent with pets

The union plans on delivering a letter to the director of the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS), Patricia Tolppanen.

She was a keynote speaker at the Calgary Residential Rental Association’s Expo called “A landlord’s Guide to Success” on March 14.

“What tenants are going through is unacceptable for the province of Alberta. The lack of protections for tenants is forcing more people than ever before to struggle to keep a roof over their heads,” said spokesperson for the union Fable Dowling in a statement.

“We are your neighbours, friends and family members. We are new families, single parents, students, and seniors. The province of Alberta must protect us by enacting rent control now.”

Maggy Wlodarczyk, left, poses for a photo with Vanessa Badger in downtown Calgary

Maggy Wlodarczyk, left, poses for a photo with Vanessa Badger in downtown Calgary on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (Logan Stein, CityNews photo)

Calgary has highest rental growth across cities in Canada

According to data from, Calgary is leading in rent growth across Canada’s largest markets.

A one-bedroom apartment in Calgary averages $1,652, a two-bedroom is $2,035, and a three-bedroom is $2,370.

With an average of $1,862 between one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, Calgary still remains below the national average of $1,724 for a one-bedroom and $2,103 for a two-bedroom

Toronto and Vancouver continue to be the most expensive rental markets, with the former having the second-highest annual rent growth of 22.8 per cent. At the same time, the latter is the most expensive rental market in Canada.

Data on rental growth across cities in Canada

Data on rental growth across cities in Canada (

Data on average rent across cities in Canada

Data on average rent across cities in Canada (

The province says the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) ensures renters of a “period of stable rent” for a year, along with specific notice requirements for rent increases.

“Alberta’s government is delivering timely, effective cost-of-living supports and inflation relief to Albertans through a $2.8 billion Affordability Action Plan,” said Alberta government press secretary Jared Gustafson.

“We have expanded utility rebates, established electricity price protection over the winter, indexed personal income tax retroactive for the 2022 tax year, and suspended the provincial fuel tax. Additionally, we are delivering targeted relief payments to seniors, families, and vulnerable Albertans.”

It recommends those in need of rental assistance go to the government website for more information.

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