Secondary Suites – The Never-ending Saga

It’s no secret that secondary suites are one of the most contentious issues at City Hall. Every month dozens of Calgarians come before Council to state their case on why they should be granted approval for a secondary suite. Every month Council moans about our current process and dream about what a different process might look like.


We have Councillors that support every suite application, we have Councillors that oppose every suite application and we have Councillors somewhere in the middle. The only thing Council seems to be able to find any consensus on when it comes to secondary suites is that our process needs to change.

Earlier this week I brought a Notice of Motion before Council. The Motion was a product of numerous meetings with my colleagues and members of the public to try and find some common ground. This was not about finding a perfect solution; this was about working towards a broader compromise that better served Calgarians.

As we moved into debate I heard colleague after colleague thank me for bringing this Motion forward. Despite their congratulations, they all proceeded to tell me that for a number of minor reasons they were not prepared to support my Motion and that Calgarians would have to settle for the status quo.

Despite my best efforts and my continued call for compromise, my Motion ultimately failed 7-8. You can see a copy of my Motion and the supplementary documentation below.



Suites Map

To say that I am frustrated right now would be an understatement. We appear to be stuck in a circular process where progress is impossible. Council candidates that ran in the 2013 election assured Calgarians that the next Council would get this issue right and take a needed step in the right direction. The next election is right around the corner and we hear members of Council singing the same tune again, “certainly the next Council will get this right”.

How many more Councils is this going to take? How many more times are we just going to keep kicking the can down the road? When are we going to accept the responsibility that Calgarians have given us to work together and find solutions to problems facing our city?

Earlier this week we sure heard a lot about how my Motion was flawed and why my colleagues couldn’t support it. While I accept the criticism, I also counter with a challenge to my colleagues. Why don’t we work together to put ideological dogma aside and carve a new path forward for secondary suites? This might mean you won’t get things entirely your way, but that’s life. Solving the secondary suite puzzle is going to mean some give and take.

Unfortunately for Calgarians I have the sense that Council will not be revisiting major changes to our process until after the 2017 Municipal Election. Yet again we seem to have found a way to dodge the responsibility that Calgarians have placed on us and yet again we are hoping that someone else will make this decision.

When it comes to secondary suites, you deserve better than this Calgary.