157 speakers. 24 hours of public hearings. 800 pages of public written submissions. 21 amendments presented (most rejected). Hours of debate. Three full days of Committee and Council discussion.
Like it, don’t like it, love it. Great plan or just a good start. Missing middle or missing actions. Whatever your view, it’s real, and our city can be proud that we’re moving in the right direction.
Certainly, there is an incredible amount of work in front of us to tackle the affordable housing and housing affordability crises. But I would be remiss if I didn’t first thank all the hard-working folks who helped build this strategy: The Affordable Housing Team, the Housing and Affordability Task Force, the Planning and Development Team, Executive Leadership and their teams, Council and Committee Clerks, the Mayor’s Office and my fellow Councillors and their teams. This was a massive undertaking, and it doesn’t happen without your passion and advocacy.
Most importantly, I want to thank the hundreds of Calgarians who shared their stories, their data, their hopes and fears, and their commitment to what they believe in. This strategy is built for you and the future of our city.
It was a great relief to have the strategy (Community Development Committee - Sept 14, 2023) approved late on Saturday evening, by a vote of 12-3.
For those who were unable to follow along, Home is Here – The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy is intended to address the full housing continuum. Everything from emergency supports for those suffering acute and sudden houselessness, to measures bringing down the cost of purchasing a home for local residents and future Calgarians.
The strategy (City of Calgary - Housing Strategy) is a comprehensive plan outlining six recommendations we can take as a city to address the housing crisis, with five intended outcomes:
- Increase housing supply
- Support affordable housing providers
- Support The City’s housing subsidiaries
- Ensure housing choices meet the needs of equity-deserving populations
- Meet the affordable housing needs of Indigenous people living in Calgary
One of the largest drivers of The City's view that this is a current and serious crisis affecting so many Calgarians was the Housing Needs Assessment, first completed in 2018 and recently updated. According to the data, using 2021 figures, approximately 85,000 households cannot afford their housing costs. This represents nearly 1 in 5 Calgary households in need.
- The number of households in housing need in 2021 was 84,600 an increase of 4,600 from the 2018 Housing Needs Assessment. This represents nearly 1 in 5 Calgary households who cannot afford their housing. Based on the current market housing conditions, it is expected that the numbers in 2023 are even higher.
Of Calgary's 84,600 households in housing need...
- 81% Are single and two-persons
- 56% Experience difficulties or long-term challenges
- 63% Non-racialized
- 32% Racialized
- 4.5% Indigenous
- 70% Working age
- 23% Seniors
- 7% Youth
10% Recent immigrants and non-permanent residents
- Based on recent market housing data, the median cost to buy a detached home has increased in price by 37% in the last three years.
- For Calgarians looking to buy their first detached home in 2023, an annual household income of $156,000 is required to adequately afford it, meaning they would not be spending more than 30 per cent of their income before tax on housing.
- To adequately afford the median purchase cost of an apartment in 2023, an annual household income of $70,800 is needed for that new home-buyer.
- For those looking to rent, an annual income of $84,000 is needed to adequately afford average market rent in 2023. That number has increased from $67,000 in 2022.
The most contentious action item contained within the strategy was 1.C.4. Prepare the necessary bylaws to immediately: I. Make the base residential district Residential-Ground Oriented (R-CG) with guidance for single, semi-detached, row and townhouses into a single land use district. I am beginning to hear from more constituents that object to this proposed change, primarily on the basis that it would no longer require a Council decision each time someone who owns a single-family home wanted to build more additional homes on the same property. While I empathize with many of the concerns shared with me, the benefits of this change will far outweigh the tradeoffs.
You can read my thoughts on this topic here.
This change to the bylaw will also need to be preceded by a communication campaign by the city, a letter sent to every homeowner affected by this change, and its own public hearing. Only then can we make the necessary change to the land-use district most homes in Calgary are sitting on. Right now, it is anticipated that this public hearing will take place in Q2 of 2024.
In the coming weeks, I'll share some additional thoughts on some of the other specific actions that were approved in the strategy, especially around what The City can and should be doing in the immediate future.
As always don't hesitate to reach out with feedback on this or any other questions or concerns related to The City and Ward 12.
Email: [email protected]
Councillor, Ward 12