Ward 9 Great Neighbourhoods Calgary – Gian-Carlo Carra

This is the official website for Gian-Carlo Carra, City Councillor for Ward 9 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Filtering by Tag: Calgary City Council

Secondary Suites Have Been Reformed. Here's What's Next.


I wanted to take this opportunity to speak about secondary suites in Calgary and the historic and forward change that took place on March 12, 2018.

People across the city living in R1 zones received a letter in the mail from the City of Calgary letting them know that City Council would be holding a public hearing on March 12, where the main topic of discussion would be regarding adding a discretionary use to the Land Use Bylaw in all R1 districts which would make basement suites and backyard suites a discretionary use.

What does this mean?

Before this proposal, if you wanted to build a secondary suite on your R1 designated property you would have to come to City Hall and appear before City Council and plead your case., a process that has been in place for a few years now.

Hundreds of individual ‘one off’ secondary suite applications have come through City Council and over 85% of them have been approved. With such an inefficient use of Council’s time, the questions became:

1) Are we using everyone's time appropriately?

2) Is this actually an ethical imperative? And

3) Can we shorten the timelines and make it more compact?

The growing consensus with this new Council was that we had to do the work of reforming the process of applying for, and the granting of, secondary suites. What we determined was that adding a discretionary use into the R1 district was the way to get it off of Council’s plate and in order to better focus our efforts onto the major issues facing Calgary.

On March 12, City Council heard well over 100 public submissions which were accompanied by over 900 letters from Calgarians. From my view, about 60% - 65% of the people who presented lived in R1 neighborhoods and were against the new proposal. Another 30% - 40% of the people who presented were also from R1 districts accompanied by advocates from across the city advocating for housing affordability and equity who were in favour of the creation of complete neighbourhoods for people of all ages, stages, and wages.  

In a 9-6 vote, City Council voted in support of the proposed bylaw change. That vote changed the world as we know it (at least in Calgary). What we now have is a city where discretionary use in all our R districts throughout the city, have secondary suites a use. With that said, we did agree to take backyard, above-garage, and cottage homes in backyards out of the bylaw and defer the bylaw from coming into effect until we bring forward the design guidelines and standards for backyard suites.

I was happy to support that as well. It's a big win.

We've taken Calgary forward with the rest of the nation. We've caught up with the rest of Canada, and now secondary suites are an allowed housing form in all single detached housing in the City of Calgary, which is a great news.

What’s next for unsafe suites and homes that flout their designated zoning?

Although we have accomplished this milestone, there is more work to do.

The vote on secondary suites also implemented to Secondary Suite Registry which allows folks who are looking to rent a secondary suite to confirm that these developments have obtained all necessary permits and have been inspected to meet Alberta’s Safety Code requirements. Being on the list is now mandatory, and going forward, every secondary suite that is completed and whose development has been inspected and approved, will be on the secondary suite registry list.

While a secondary suite doesn’t have to be listed on the Registered Suites Map, it will be listed on the city’s registry list which is maintained by Planning & Development.

Additionally, the City of Calgary will be giving currently illegal secondary suite owners two years to bring their suites up to code, after which, the city will be pursuing increased enforcement should they continue to attempt to flout the new bylaw and registry system.

Moving forward we need to address the issues of illegal and non-conforming suites and duplexes which have been turned into 4-packs. It is estimated that there are between 16,000 to 25,000 households in the City of Calgary that are illegal or non-conforming. A large number of those are sitting in 1970's-type low-slope roof buildings that take a semi-detached form. Those developments lend themselves very well from going from a duplex, a two-unit semi-detached home, to a four pack - two units on the top floor with two units on the ground floor - because the basements are raised.

We see these all over the city, and there are a number of them in Ward 9. One of the things that I heard from the public, loud and clear, was that people are concerned about safety.

I don’t take those comments lightly. Safety is a big issue for my colleagues on City Council and I. We will continue to work to make sure that every Calgarian can live in a safe and legal home, whether it's a secondary suite or not. The challenge with the semi-detached form I mentioned above is that it's not technically a secondary suite. It's technically a multi-family building.

Everything that we've done to date on secondary suites has not addressed the issue that we face with the illegal 4-packs. If we want to make those thousands of units safe, the first thing we have to do is make them legal. In the weeks ahead, I will be putting together a Notice of Motion directing City Administration to examine and bring back a report on paths to legality for that kind of building form. I expect to have a lot of support from my colleagues on City Council.

What is next for secondary suites?

In the next year or two, after we've seen how the discretionary use process works in the ‘R’ Districts and we realize that, like the rest of the country, it's not like an apocalyptic change, I will be working with my colleagues to pursue secondary suites as a permitted use. As you know, when I first started talking about this, I wanted to make in-house suites a permitted use, and I still believe that this is the gold standard that we should be pursuing and I will not be fully happy until we get to that point.

Those are the next two steps on the suite file, I'm very pleased that we made the massive step that we did on March 12, and I look forward to continuing to move the ball forward on this essential component of a completely community. Thank you so much. Gian-Carlo Carra signing off.



Penny Pinching Or Unfettered Spending? Council's 2018 Budget Adjustments

At the end of November, City Council and I reviewed and adjusted the 2018 municipal budget.  2018 marks the final year of Action Plan 2015-2018, Calgary’s first ever four-year budget plan. Over four long (and sometimes grueling) days we examined the successes of previous budgets and set ambitious goals for our future. I am pleased with where we are and look forward to the coming year as we develop One Calgary, the City's next four-year budget plan.

This budget purposefully focused on investing in safety, social services and public transit and easing the tax burden on Calgarians. I am excited for the Great Neighbourhoods work we will be executing on throughout 2018.

Key Elements of the approved 2018 Municipal Budget Adjustments include:

  • Reduction to the previously approved 2018 municipal property tax rate increase from 4.7 per cent to 0.9 per cent for property owners.
  • $20.8 million for Calgary Police Service (CPS) for the addition of 55 new members to address growing demands, additional human resources, and to fund body-worn cameras.
  • $4 million from the Fiscal Stability Reserve to fund the low income transit pass for Calgarians.
  • $4 million to restore the recommended reductions to Calgary Transit service hours and to invest additional services to optimize the system.
  • $3 million approved from the Fiscal Stability Reserve to Community Services for safe communities, youth and low-income programs and crime prevention.
  • $23.7 million in 2017 tax room dedicated to fund Green Line financing costs for 27 years ending in 2044.
  • Reducing the 2018 basic sanitary tipping fees from $119 to $113 per tonne and Planning & Development fees, to reduce the burden on Calgary businesses.
  • Approving $1.7 billion for capital investment in Calgary infrastructure.

Council also directed Administration to determine the cost of extending the Municipal Non-residential Phased Tax Program (PTP) to help Calgary non-residential property owners, and report back to Council in the first quarter of 2018 with a recommendation on either extending the PTP or finding a more efficient way to provide tax relief to businesses.

This City Council continues to display sound fiscal management and a solid track record, evidenced in the latest credit ratings, which are among the best of Canadian municipalities.

I will continue to encourage balance and both social and fiscal responsibility for the City of Calgary and ensure that we maintain consistent fiscal performance, maintain a low tax burden and sizable financial reserves, as well as continue to be innovative and lead economic and population growth.

Gian-Carlo Carra

Want to know more? 

Read the full 2018 Adjustments to Action Plan report

Undertanding City Finances 


I Can’t Believe This Garbage at the City

(1 minute read)

I’m happy to announce that the hours at the East Calgary Waste Facility will have new hours of operation!

Starting February 6, 2018, the East Calgary facility will switch to a 6-day-per-week (Monday to Saturday) operation, with seven-day operation taking place from April to October.

In late 2016 Waste & Recycling Services had a significant revenue shortfall due to a decline in waste being sent to their facilities. Facing this difficult situation, they made the decision to lay off landfill workers and reduce their hours of operation and switched to a staggered schedule where each of their sites would be open four days a week.

These changes helped reduce operating costs. However, through conversations with many customers, constituents and by observing what is working and what isn’t, it became clear that they needed to offer more predictable service to residents and convenience to the commercial customers who are responsible for most of their revenue.

With this change, they have increased the total number of weekdays they are open and increased the number of operating days to 13 per week in the summer instead of the current 12. This has all been accomplished without increasing our operating budget.

If you would like more information, please feel free to follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gccarra, Facebook at www.facebook.com/gccarra, or contact me at 403-268-5330.


Building Local Communities - A National Housing Strategy That Lasts?

(1 minute read)

Providing affordable housing to Calgarians is a major point of my Great Neighbourhoods platform. I know a lot of you are interested in seeing this land well and have the best return on investment possible - financially, socially and environmentally - for our city and citizens.

On Wednesday, November 22, 2017, the federal government released a $40-billion national housing program. I welcome the federal government’s increased direct involvement in the delivery of affordable housing.

On my initial reading, it seems that the strategy does reflect a resident-centric approach. My desire is that a large part of this strategy has meaningful consultation with Calgarians and complements the work that The City of Calgary has been doing.

I’m optimistic that the federal government’s commitment on capital funding to deliver new affordable housing will positively impact thousands of families in Calgary, in general, and East Calgary, specifically.

While my colleagues on City Council and I look forward to working with all orders of government to ensure the most efficient and impactful use of these funds, I will remain laser-focused on ensuring the details on how this funding will flow to Calgary, what projects City Council sees as priorities, and how this funding can positively uplift and impact our friends and neighbours in our neighbourhoods.

I was also encouraged to read that the federal government will be creating a $2,500 per year housing benefit to support both tenants and non-profit housing providers alike, making many more units affordable.

As with all policies and programs that affect Calgarians, I support the direction or prioritizing research and evidence-based approaches to make sure we have the best possible policies for those who need them the most.

I will continue to keep focused on delivering the best outcomes for our citizens building Great Neighbourhoods.