Danielle Smith ‘concerned’ after Calgary council approves blanket rezoning

Premier Danielle Smith is among those reacting to Calgary’s decision to move forward with blanket rezoning to allow higher density builds across the city.

The new rules mean the city’s base zoning will now allow for townhomes or row homes to be built in most communities alongside single-family homes and duplexes.

Smith was asked about city council’s decision during a news conference on the wildfire situation in Alberta on Wednesday — saying her main concern is that the city is only doing it to get housing money from the federal Trudeau government.

“It seemed like the resurgence of this was tied to a bilateral deal that the City of Calgary signed with the federal government,” she said. “It’s a little bit murky.”

The city has said they started working on the proposal before the federal Liberals asked for such changes in order to access funding.

Smith’s UCP government tabled legislation last month that would prevent the federal government from entering into funding agreements with municipalities and other provincial entities, unless the province is consulted first.

“We want to be the advocate for all of our municipalities, so they don’t feel like they have to be pressured into passing policies,” Smith said.

The premier went on to note there is a municipal election in a year-and-a-half where the eight councillors and mayor who supported the rezoning proposal could face backlash.

“I don’t quite know how this is going to turn out for the various members who voted the way they did,” she said. “I’ve seen the polling. We’ll see whether or not there is widespread acceptance then.”

Last week, administration provided a recap to council following the Calgary’s longest-ever public hearing on blanket rezoning that saw over 700 residents speak. Out of those speakers, just over 62 per cent were opposed to blanket rezoning, and just over 30 per cent supported the idea.

Late Tuesday, city council voted 9-6 in favour of the proposal with some small amendments made to the original motion.

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.

The change won’t take effect until August but the city says development applications for newly rezoned properties will start being accepted immediately.

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