‘That’s my choice’: Danielle Smith shares thoughts on blanket rezoning

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith took to the airwaves of her province-wide radio show Saturday to share her thoughts on blanket rezoning.

When asked for her opinion on Your Province, Your Premier, Smith said she has “always lived” in communities zoned with a variety of mixed uses because of the proximity to commercial amenities.

However, she said that’s just her personal choice.

“That’s the reason why I’ve made the choice to live where I do. I currently live in a complex that has four units in it. So I don’t have any particular problem either with multifamily homes, and just down the way there’s some beautiful mansions,” she said.

“But that’s my choice.”

Smith says there are people who choose neighbourhoods to be near amenities, but acknowledges that other people and families will choose different neighbourhoods for different reasons, and people should have the choice between the two.

“They want to be able to have the type of homes where they know that it’s going to be safe for their kids. That there isn’t going to be the mixed use of … perhaps a lot of commercial or other types of uses,” she said.

“There’s going to be similar types of families in those communities with similar interests and being able to maintain the public amenities the way they want to, and we should be able to allow for a combination of all of those things.”

She went on to say that she is typically trustful that municipalities will make appropriate decisions. Still, Smith added that the federal government’s “demands” for blanket rezoning are putting them in a difficult position with their constituents.

“This is the reason we don’t think it’s right for the federal government to come in force municipalities to rewrite all their laws as a condition to receive a little bit of money,” Smith said.

“The municipalities are now going to have to suffer the feedback that they’re getting. And it looks like some of those meetings are pretty brutal.”

While the city was debating its housing strategy in September 2023, the federal government said to the City of Calgary that it “must end exclusionary zoning” to be approved for the Housing Accelerator Fund, which ended up being $238 million. Edmonton’s deal in February saw it approved for $175 million.

“Those are the kinds of strings that get attached when the federal government comes in,” Smith said.

“They’re not just here to help. They’re not just here to try to be a funding partner and deal with in good faith. They’re here to get an agenda implemented. And I don’t know that that agenda is one that’s necessarily supported by the people.”

Watch: Calgary mayor has no issue working directly with federal

Her comments come days ahead of a public hearing on blanket rezoning on April 22.

The proposal has been a hot topic in the city, with many advocates saying this will help with the housing crisis and boost density, while many have voiced opposition to the proposal.

Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean called for a city-wide plebiscite in early March but was defeated in a council vote 8-6.

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong recently hosted a couple of townhalls, and Landon Johnston, who has become synonymous with the recall petition on Mayor Jyoti Gondek, was one of hundreds of people at a packed open house in Lake Bonavista to share their concerns with city-wide rezoning.

The public hearing will see council listen to concerns from Calgarians, which will then be followed by a vote to make a change to default base zoning to rowhouse-ground oriented in fill (R-CG). A rowhouse building has more than three units and is located side-by-side, and there can be a secondary suite within.

Gondek has said she hopes misconceptions will finally be put to rest, and hundreds of Calgarians will share their thoughts with council.

The proposed change would make it so medium-density infills with ground-level entrances, like single, semi-detached, row and townhouses, can be built in the city. However, neighbourhoods with single-family detached homes would also be subject to this change.

With files from Lauyrn Heintz and Logan Stein

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