In an interview with The Press on the eve of the Oct. 21 civic election, Nenshi promised to make the issue a priority for new city council, after the election.
With the city facing a rental crunch and more than 70 per cent of Calgarians agreeing in opinion polls that secondary suites in existing homes should be legalized, Nenshi confirmed that he plans to present a new proposal to the incoming council, if he is re-elected.
He was cautious on the timing, however, saying that it will depend on the actual election results.
According to Nenshi, the issue will be moved to the forefront if the new council members are interested in having the debate quickly. If not, it will have to be saved for a later date.
In addition, Nenshi said he would be willing to consider a staged approach of making secondary suites available in areas with a more obvious demand, “if that is the only option available.”
That might mean allowing suites in areas near post-secondary institutions like SAIT, for example.
“I think it’s the right thing to do, and when the time comes, it will be followed through,” he said.
At a Citizens’ Mayoral Forum held on Monday, Oct. 7 at the University of Calgary, Nenshi expressed his concerns regarding the difficulties being faced by students who haven’t been able to find an affordable place to live this fall.
“We need a multifaceted approach to do this, and if I am re-elected, this will be a major priority in my first month of office to figure out how we can get the best minds together to talk about housing choices in more neighbourhoods throughout the city,” he said.
According to Nenshi, the city currently has around 35,000 illegal suites and his goal is to legalize these suites, subject to safety concerns for students and other citizens of Calgary.
“Of course, we need to legalize secondary suites city wide. It’s a right thing to do morally, legally and ethically to ensure that people can have access to safe, decent housing in these secondary suites.”
Having proposed the legalization of secondary suites to council two years ago, Nenshi said that council had to drop the idea because it fell one vote short of being approved.