Voters, renters, citizens – it is time we start being heard.
Calgary, as a city, has been known to be one of the most welcoming, warm and compassionate cities in the world. In fact, wherever I travel around the world all I hear from those who have visited here is just how fantastic this city is (even from those who haven’t visited, which proves that our reputation is strong).
However, a sad trend is starting to creep into these conversations. Our reputation is starting to get tarnished due to a perceived lack of compassion for those with lower income who are having an incredibly difficult time finding affordable rental housing. Yes, (sadly), the inaction or inability of our current council to deal with the “Safe, Affordable Secondary Suite” issue is being covered in media not just here but in many parts of the world.
It seems we believe we are world class, our city is growing in leaps and bounds, we lead the country in economic growth but at the same time we can’t grasp the fact that we are in an affordable rental market crisis.
New Leadership Strategy: Delay Big Decisions Until Further Notice
Yes, Mayor Nenshi and a select few councillors have shown leadership in trying to get some resolution to this issue, yet there are a few who just seem to like to push the decision forward, waste more money on studies (that will say the same thing) so that they don’t rock the voter boat.
To get a taste of what is really going on, I suggest you read some of the minutes/transcripts of past Council meetings to see the rhetoric, to hear fellow Calgarians plead to be able to build a self-contained suite so their married children have an affordable place to stay, to hear from potential landlords who can help QUICKLY solve the 1.8% vacancy rate… then to hear the response of some of the councillors.
Driving Secondary Suites Underground
We laugh at the inability for the US Congress to make any real decisions, especially on critical issues. Yet here we are in the exact same position. Posturing, deflecting, studying… hoping that the issue will go away. Well it won’t. What it is doing is pushing these secondary suites underground (pun intended). Many that will not be up to safety codes, many built without permits and inspections. Where will the blame lay if one of these suites causes a catastrophe in the near future as we order more studies, debate the reality even further
Cities of all sizes have already solved the issues that we continue to debate here in Calgary (parking, density, window size, fire walls, heating systems etc). Maybe, we should just review their reports, their bylaws, their enforcement programs – take the best of each one and get on with creating the solution.
Calgary’s Compassionate Heart Must Shine Through
Calgary is not ‘unique’ in its requirements for affordable and safe secondary suites, we do not have to reinvent the wheel, we just need to get the wheel heading in the direction of a solution – instead of continually blocking its obvious path.
We are a world class city, with a world class economy let us also have world class leadership from our council so that we can continue to be perceived as having a world class heart towards those who need an affordable and safe place to live.
The solution is right before us, our reputation is on the line. Renters, voters, property owners – stand up and be heard. If you don’t, this issue could drag on in a political fog for years.
Below is a video that hopefully captures the emotions I have been hearing from homeowners, voters and landlords from across the city of Calgary
Click For Full Video Analysis of Calgary Secondary Suite Problem and Solution