Calgary says citywide rezoning will help housing crisis, begins public engagement

For at least the next 10 days, public information sessions will be held to better educate Calgarians on what new residential zoning could look like around the city.

It’s a massive step into the future, and in the coming years, Calgary could look a lot different.

“I feel that it’s a dawn of a new era for development in Calgary,” said Brett Turner with Redline Real Estate Group. “I think this is a very good thing for our proud city.”

He says there is a lot for people to get excited about when it comes to the public information sessions beginning, which would see rezoning change around the city.

Online, there has been lots of mixed reaction, with many people saying they have concerns about what added density could mean for their neighbourhood.

Alkarim Devani, a developer with RNDSQR, understands change can be difficult for people, but he believes everyone will benefit in the future.

“The sheer need for housing and the volume that is required and also, the lack of affordability that continues to really keep these neighbourhoods quite excluded,” he explained. “I think a lot of folks are just generally scared, concerned, and are looking to learn more about what does this mean for them and the homes they’ve lived in for a very long time.”

On social media, some people are saying they have worked too hard to see an apartment building be built right across the street.

Devani says that wouldn’t necessarily be the case.

“It’s funny — I think a lot of people, when they hear ‘density’ they always think about the negatives,” he said. “But, you have to understand, there’s always two sides to everything and yes, density will bring traffic, it will bring noise.

“But ultimately, it will bring the opportunity, potentially, for your children to come back into your neighbourhood and for your grandchildren to live like you did in these communities.”

After these talks wrap up, the rezoning for housing report will be dissected by city council and the planning commission in March, before decisions could be made.

More than 60 per cent of residential properties in the city are only intended for single-family homes.

Devani says zoning changes would fix a lot of Calgary’s problems, especially around affordability, while allowing people to build more duplexes, secondary suites, and other forms of housing.

“I think it’s really important we think about our future, about our city, about the people that we’re connected to and where we want them to grow up,” he said.

Turner agrees, saying zoning updates will change Calgary for the better.

“In the grand picture of Calgary and our outlook over the many decades to come, this is really going to help our city grow responsibly without seeing these sharp increases in pricing we’ve seen in other markets in the country that are really not helping,” he said.

If approved, changes won’t be noticeable for some time, according to Turner.

“I do feel that this is a turning point and a dawn of a new era for inner–city Calgary and future developments that we’ll see,” he said. “While the zoning changes are quite profound, it will take many years for this to start to work it’s way through the actual development community.”

Devani says if its done right, Calgary could be a role-model for other cities around the country.

“We’re actually just trying to level the playing field. This type of housing form like row houses, multi-generational stack units, happens enormously better and well in the new growth communities and it’s why they’re affordable — they’re building diverse, complete, mixed-use communities and I think if we can do a better job at it here we’ll serve a multitude of Calgarians rather than just a very small, niche population who can afford to live there,” he said.

A council public hearing is set for April 22.

More details about rezoning could look like in your neighbourhood can be found on the City of Calgary’s website.

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