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City council quashes notice of motion for Calgary housing pilot project

Calgary city councillors refused to allow a housing-related Notice of Motion to go ahead, citing sequencing and competition with upcoming conversations on the topic.

The Notice of Motion from Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp, delivered for a technical review at Wednesday’s Executive Committee meeting, would have considered a pilot project to streamline the permit approvals for the upzoning of residential parcels.

Coun. Sharp wanted to create a program that would try to cut approval time in half to five months and keep a lid on fees, by rewarding developers that applied for both a land-use redesignation and development permit at the same time.

“I’m bringing this forward because I believe that it’s important we make it easier to build more housing,” said Coun. Sharp, during Wednesday’s meeting.

“We need to create the right process and environment to make that happen.”

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner raised issues with the motion, asking the city clerk to cite aspects of the procedural bylaw with which it conflicted.

The city clerk said that motions can’t compete with previously adopted direction, plus it should incorporate city administration input. Penner then asked Planning and Development GM Stuart Dalgleish if it did compete and if administration input helped direct this motion.

The City of Calgary’s Corporate Housing Strategy, which the recent Housing and Affordability Task Force recommendations are a part of, will be presented to the Community and Development Committee on Sept. 14. There’s also now a Special Meeting of Council scheduled for Sept. 16 – the weekend.

“Administration believes that really this Notice of Motion, what it is intending to achieve, should be considered as part of the housing strategy and discussed as part of that on September the 14th,” Dalgleish said.

Chicken-and-egg situation

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said this was put forward ahead of council seeing the corporate housing strategy.

“We knew what the task force had recommended, but not necessarily what the strategy would be going forward,” he said.

“Again, it gets back to chicken and egg, right? Which came first?”

Wong said that given all of the information, it should move forward for debate at the upcoming Sept. 12 meeting of city council. He believed the technical merits had been met.

Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian said that if it, in fact, wasn’t competing with the housing strategy and the corporate housing strategy, it wouldn’t be an urgent matter.

“We wouldn’t be having this conversation. So, it could go through its normal processes,” she said.

Mian also questioned that if nearly a majority of city council had signed on to a notice of motion before even hearing the corporate housing strategy, or how HTAF recommendations would be included, if they were amenable to persuasion.

“I think that there could be some folks who call into question whether we’re truly open to persuasion on those items, and that’s why things like this are a little bit problematic when they come out of sequence like this,” she said.

The motion was eventually defeated 7-8. Couns. Carra, Spencer, Dhaliwal, Walcott, Mian, Penner, Pootmans and Mayor Jyoti Gondek voted against it.

It was suggested to Coun. Sharp that this item could be brought as an amendment to the upcoming Sept. 14 meeting.