Calgary Planning Commission approves secondary suite bylaw amendments to move before City Council in May

THUMBMACKAYThe Calgary Planning Commission approved amendments March 26 to the Land Use Bylaw that would allow secondary suites in Wards 7, 8, 9, and 11 and streamline the application process for suites in the city.

A total of 35,395 homes exist in these four wards that could potentially become eligible for secondary suites.

The commission’s preliminary approval of the bylaw amendments means they will go forward to a city council public hearing in May before a final decision is made. Lesley Kalmakoff, a city planner, says the amendments are aimed at improving the secondary suite process.

“It will definitely make the application process easier, and we are also hoping that the amendments will tempt those with illegal suites to apply for those building permits and ensure that their suites are permitted and safe in accordance with Alberta Building Code and Alberta Fire Code,” says Kalmakoff.

The Planning, Development and Assessment team prepared the recommendations to the bylaw incitymapInner-city Wards 7, 8, 9, and 11 will be affected by the proposed changes, stretching from John Laurier Blvd NW to Anderson Road SE.

Photo provided by the City of Calgary and edited by Megan Mackay December 2014.

The city defines a secondary suite as “a self-contained accessory living space consisting of a
 bedroom, bathroom and kitchen developed within or on the same property as a single family income.” It is hoped that the increased availability of the suites will provide a much-needed remedy to the tight, expensive rental market in the city.

Prior to the amendments, homeowners looking to build a secondary suite on their property were required to obtain a Land Use Redesignation, and have that redesignation approved by city council during regular public hearings — a lengthy process that could often take up to six months.

Now, homeowners are still required to apply for building permits, but the streamlined processing time is hoped to lead to the increased construction of safe and legal suites.

Secondary suites have been a controversial issue in the city. Residents worry about increased traffic and declining home values, and despite the push forward, some Calgarians still feel the amendments need more consideration.

Keith Lemon is a resident of the Ward 11 community Southwood and he is not optimistic about the proposed amendments.

Secondary suites City Council will meet May 11 in a public hearing to make the final decision about the proposed bylaw amendments.

Photo courtesy of davebloggs007/flickr, Creative Commons Licensed 

“Southwood community is bordering on Anderson Road and is not a residential neighbourhood,” says Lemon. “Many of our neighbours are doing extensive upgrades to their R1 community houses and enjoy living in a quiet neighborhood.”

“If this goes through, I will have nothing to say about what goes on my street or even next door. Adding a new family in the basement suite to the house next door would definitely increase the parking problem by adding new cars to the street, and would double the garbage carts in the back alley,” he adds.

The city encourages citizens to get involved in the discussion as the amendments move forward, either by speaking directly to council at a public hearing on May 11, or by submitting written comments to council members prior to the hearing. The city requests that comments be brief and address land-use planning issues.

To see more investigative pieces on secondary suites, please visit here

To contact the editors responsible for this story; Jordan Kroschinsky,; Evan Manconi at

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