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Calgary Passes Blanket Rezoning Changes

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Nearly a month after discussions began at Calgary’s City Hall, on May 14th, councillors narrowly approved moving forward with blanket rezoning, allowing for increased housing density in single-family residential areas. The decision followed a lengthy 15-day Public Hearing, during which 736 Calgarians spoke, and 6,101 submitted written statements. Nearly 70% expressed their opposition to blanket rezoning. However, under the City’s Housing Needs Assessment, one in five Calgary households is unable to afford where they currently live.

In a close 9-6 vote, the council approved the proposal with some amendments. This means properties currently zoned as R-C1, which are limited to single-detached homes only, will transition to R-CG, permitting townhomes and duplexes.

Blanket rezoning still allows for single-detached homes but simplifies the process by eliminating individual debates for each land-use application. One of 98 actions detailed in Calgary’s Home is Here: Housing Strategy, this rezoning initiative aims to diversify housing options, allowing for semi-detached, row houses, duplexes, fourplexes, and townhouses across the city, in new and established neighbourhoods, effective August 6, 2024. Rezoning aims to enable single-family homeowners to explore low-density housing forms without first applying for a land-use redesignation.

A row of modern townhouse buildings with peaked roofs and large windows, lined with small trees and shrubs, under a clear blue sky.

The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy presents a holistic plan that focuses on several key objectives. These include boosting the housing supply, offering support to affordable housing providers to enact meaningful change, improving service delivery by The City’s housing subsidiaries, ensuring a wide array of housing options to meet the needs of diverse populations, and addressing the specific affordable housing needs of Indigenous communities residing in Calgary. 

Alternative motions, including a plebiscite or a pilot project, were also proposed but were not passed. However, certain amendments were made to the blanket rezoning change, and accepted, including considering privacy impacts on neighbouring properties. One notable change from the original proposal is categorizing row houses as discretionary, not as a permitted use, subjecting them to evaluation, based on certain factors, as well as community scrutiny.

R-CG zoning will be implemented citywide as of August 6th. While development applications can be submitted immediately, decisions will be made after the implementation date.

The City has created resources to clarify what rezoning will mean.

Premier Danielle Smith has expressed concerns with the proposed blanket rezoning because it seemed to be tied to a bilateral deal the City of Calgary signed with the federal government. 

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, however, indicated that, per the Housing Accelerator Fund Contribution Agreement, the council will not be fettered by the federal agreement. Details of Calgary’s HAF Action Plan Summary are also available online.

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