May 24, 2004
Land Use Bylaw Review Team – Low Density Residential
Mr. Robert Batallas
Land Use Planning and Policy, #8121
City of Calgary
P.O. Box 2100, Stn. M
Calgary AB T2P 2M5
Re: Land Use Bylaw Review – Low Density Residential Districts
Dear Mr. Batallas,
Thank you for providing the opportunity to participate in the Low Density Residential Districts Land
Use Bylaw Review. We appreciate the time and effort on the part of the planning staff that goes into
developing the Framework and the Bylaw.
We would like to comment on two aspects of the Low Density Residential Framework that are
currently missing or may require further elaboration for the new Land Use Bylaw:
a) secondary suites
b) special care facilities
We understand from your email dated April 26, 2005 that Secondary Suites are not included in the
proposed Low Density Residential Districts Framework at this stage. You indicate that a separate
framework for secondary suites will be developed and Council direction will be sought.
Secondary Suites are one of the important options for increasing the supply of affordable housing in
Calgary. The Land Use Bylaw is a crucial tool for implementing a wider range of affordable housing
choices. The City has a one-time opportunity to include Secondary Suites in the new Land Use Bylaw
– whatever form and size they may take – and this opportunity should not be missed.
Currently in Calgary, there are many Secondary Suites that continue to operate illegally. By increasing
the options for legal Secondary Suites under the new Land Use Bylaw, The City has an important
opportunity to regulate and control this use and mitigate potential negative impacts, and to provide
an incentive to upgrade existing properties.
More than half of Calgary’s rental units are informal rentals1. This type of rental accommodation is
particularly needed by students, seniors, single parents, new immigrants, and other low income
groups. Further, Secondary Suites increase housing affordability for first time homeowners, or
anyone on limited income, through helping out with mortgage payments.
Other Canadian municipalities facing housing affordability crisis have implemented policies and
bylaws that increase the number of secondary suites and provide further framework to regulate these
– giving the municipalities more control over Secondary Suites. The City of Vancouver and Greater
Regional Vancouver District serve as a good example of this type of municipal initiative.
The City of Calgary’s Affordable Housing Strategy speaks to creating affordable housing choices to
meet the needs of all Calgarians. The City of Calgary and its non-profit community partners have
recognized the need for enhanced affordable housing options through a number of recent affordable
housing initiatives. Secondary Suites must not be overlooked as one of the viable options on the
affordable housing continuum.
Special Care Facilities
The proposed Low Density Residential Districts Framework refers to small-scale Special Care
Facilities under discretionary uses. We commend the inclusion of Special Care Facilities in the low
density residential districts. However, it is not clear what is intended by ‘small-scale’ and this needs to
be further defined as these facilities provide an important housing option within existing
communities (e.g., assisted living for people who live with mental illness).
The R-COM district (Residential Low Density Comprehensive Site) does not include special care
facilities under discretionary uses – is there a rationale for this or is this simply an omission? It is our
submission that Special Care Facilities should not be excluded from any residential districts.
The Calgary Homeless Foundation believes that both Secondary Suites as well as Special Care
Facilities provide essential affordable housing options (with and without supports) in Calgary. It is
important that by separating the Secondary Suites Framework from the Low Density Residential
Districts Framework, the opportunity to review different Secondary Suites options, to discuss their
parameters (such as form, size, minimum lot size, parking requirements, etc.), and to include them in
the low density residential district is not lost.
We appreciate the opportunity to work with The City of Calgary and other stakeholders on the
Secondary Suites and Special Care Facilities Frameworks. Please advise us what the next steps are in
the development of these frameworks are. We thank you in advance for taking the time to respond
to this letter. If you have any questions, please contact me at 262-2921.
President and CEO
Calgary Homeless Foundation
C: Sharyn Brown and Martina Jileckova, Calgary Homeless Foundation
1 The City of Calgary: Affordable Housing Calgary – Building Affordable Housing Through Partnerships.