Calgary council approves blanket rezoning in wake of historic public hearing

Calgary is moving forward with blanket rezoning after council voted to pass the motion on Tuesday in the wake of a historic 15-day public hearing.

City council voted 9-6 in favour of the proposal for citywide rezoning with some small amendments made to the original motion.

The change means Calgary’s base zoning would allow for townhomes or row homes to be built in most communities alongside single-family homes and duplexes.

The city says council approved a recommendation to “make it easier for Calgarians to provide input during the development permit process in their communities.”

“Before the public hearing began, it was clear that housing is the top issue on Calgarians’ minds and is truly the problem of our time,” reads a statement from Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “Council’s decision confirms our commitment to meet that problem with the tools and plan we have.”

The decision comes on the heels of the city’s longest-ever public hearing that included around 6,100 written submissions and more than 700 speakers who said their piece at city hall.

Last week, administration provided a recap to council following the 12 days of hearings that saw 736 speakers present to city council. Out of those speakers, there were 458 who were opposed (62.2 per cent), and 227 supported the idea (30.8 per cent).

“I’m disappointed,” said Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean, who voted against the proposal. “What’s the point of having a public hearing, if we ignore that and vote against it.”

“You have the majority of council voting against the majority of Calgarians,” McLean says.

In the wake of the hearing, council debated rezoning over the past two days where motions to abandon the strategy and to hold a plebiscite were defeated.

Procedurally, council could not pass the third reading of the bylaw during a lengthy Tuesday meeting after Coun. Sean Chu and Coun. Andre Chabot opposed the second reading.

Opponents were vocal with their displeasure with rezoning, including Chabot, who asked his ward be omitted from the new bylaw.

“You guys want to do it to the rest of the city, fine — exclude Ward 10,” he said. “The worst decision this council, any council I’ve ever sat on, has ever made.”

Council adjourned shortly after and Gondek called a separate special meeting for the third reading to pass.

Coun. Courtney Walcott didn’t mince words when describing how he felt about that move.

“It was a petty decision that is completely within the rights of my colleagues to delay something that was successful through a democratic process,” he said.

The city hopes the move will provide relief to the housing crisis by speeding up approvals and making it easier for more housing options to be built across the city.

Development applications for newly rezoned properties will start being accepted by the city immediately, but decision on the applications won’t be made until after the Aug 6 implementation date.

Listen to CityNews 660 for more on this developing story.

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