SAIT students have been urged to get involved in the issue of secondary suites in Calgary.
Speaking at a forum on campus Feb. 26, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the need to legalize development of secondary suites is a question of giving all renters, including students, the same right to safe, satisfactory accommodation.
“I happen to believe this is a moral and ethical issue,” Nenshi told about 80 people at the forum, which was held in Macdonald Hall.
Ignoring the issue and not giving those now living in illegal suites the protection they deserve as tenants is wrong, he said.
“We need to ensure that every single person that lives here has the ability to live in a place with dignity and in a place where they are safe.”
Nenshi’s comments came at the city mounted yet another attempt to win the support of city council members for legalization, at least in parts of the inner city.
Public information sessions were held in the first week of March in wards seven, eight, nine and 11, in preparation for a vote in May to allow development of legal suites in those areas, which cover SAIT and the city’s other post-secondary schools.
The move follows the rejection last December by council of a motion to legalize secondary suites throughout the city. That motion failed by a vote of eight to seven.
According to the mayor, it was was the 38th time the issue has been brought to council.
The mayor, who was greeted by loud applause at the forum, stressed that student need to get involved in the debate.
“I encourage you all to support it as much as you can,” he said.
The best way to invoke change is to make the 14 members of city council aware there is a problem.
“Tweet them, email them, call their offices,” said Nenshi.
“This stuff really, really matters.”
The mayor also touched on his history in student politics, the importance of student government and the larger issues surrounding students today.
During his time at U of C, Nenshi served as president of the students’ association.
He spoke about how relationships that students make in college will stick with them for the rest of their lives, mentioning that the same man who was his VP External at U of C is now his chief of staff.
“The people you’re stuck with right now, you’re stuck with for the rest of your life,” he joked.
Nenshi’s presentation was sponsored by SAITSA, as a way of demonstrating the importance of student leadership.
SAITSA president Jared Stock described the mayor as “a very motivational speaker, a very good leader for the City of Calgary. Anybody here is going to take out some sort of benefit.”
Nenshi left students with a thought – or – as the former professor called it, “homework.”
“Keep your politicians honest.
“We’re all in it together.”
Nenshi also added that everybody in the city needs to help each other.
“Our neighbour’s pain is our pain,” he said.
“That’s why we are successful here. Every single person has the opportunity right here right now to live the ‘great Canadian life.’”
The mayor closed with asking the students to walk away thinking, “What can I do to make this city better?”
English Language Foundations student Alessandro Stoppa thought the presentation was fantastic.
“It was just an amazing opportunity,” said Alessandro, adding the mayor had shown how genuine a politician should be.
“I’m from Italy and we have a lot of politicians that are fake and corrupt.
“They cannot speak from the heart.”
The people you’re stuck with right now, you’re stuck with for the rest of your life. – Mayor Naheed Nenshi
According to Stoppa, Nenshi is different.
“This man was speaking from the heart to us.
“He’s the person who can inspire me.”