Should the $5,000 rezoning application fee be reinstated?

Posted by Justin Havre. on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 at 10:17am.

Mayor Nenshi says the housing crisis isn’t over.

But there was a time, not too long ago, that if you as an investor or property owner needed to re-zone a property for purposes of installing a suite, the City of Calgary required an application fee in the amount of $4,485.  Then, along came the 2013 Flood which devastated the Mission area of Calgary, a very dense neighbourhood with a large number of apartment buildings.  Secondary suites along river neighbourhoods were also damaged, especially in Bowness.  In all, the city estimates 500 secondary suites were off line after the flood.  Displaced people needed places to rent while buildings were repaired and at that time, the vacancy rate in Calgary was already near zero and rents were high.

At that time, it seemed only logical to make it easier for property owners get secondary suites up and running with as few obstacles as possible.  Now that the vacancy rate has settled down a little, one Calgary councilor wants to see funds come back into the city coffers.

Peter Demong, councilor for Ward 14, says the days of dire straits are over.  In fact, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) says that in a 12 month period from October 2014 to October 2015, the vacancy rate actually tripled to 5.3% and in the first quarter of 2016 it has increased even further.

Recently, 25 applications for secondary suites were received at City Hall, all in a single day.  By waiving the rezoning application fee, the city lost $125,000 in potential revenue.

Councilor Demong is looking out for the city’s best interest but Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Councilor Brian Pincott say there is still a housing crunch in our city.

Wait lists for subsidized housing continue to grow.  Students and the working poor are still finding it difficult, perhaps not to find housing but affordable and convenient housing.  Reinstating the near $5,000 rezoning application fee would be a deterrent for homeowners and investors who are thinking of upgrading an illegal secondary suite and bringing it into compliance.

The city believes that there are as many as 50,000 illegal suites in Calgary.  Bringing these suites up to code and in compliance with City of Calgary by-laws protect both the homeowner and the rental.

Councilor Demong feels that those homeowners who are making application and taking advantage of the waived fee could be doing it for self-serving purposes and are simply trying to increase the value of their Calgary property.  Having the correct zoning in place before putting a property on the market will make that property more marketable and up the asking price.

Rezoning Application Process

If you’re thinking of changing the zoning on your property, it is a lengthy but not impossible process.  You must submit your application in person on the 5th floor of City Hall, but you must set up an appointment first. At your appointment, your application will be taken and it will be screened before it’s sent along to your Ward Councilor’s office, your community association, to special interest groups in your neighbourhood.  Those immediately adjacent to your property must also be consulted.

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