Poll Analysis: Calgarians strongly support secondary suites in their neighbourhoods

brian_singh.jpgSome of you may have been wondering why we haven’t seen any surveys on support for secondary suites. The likely explanation is that a new survey would show Calgarians strongly support the legalization of secondary suites and strongly support them in their neighbourhoods.

These results would be the same as the surveys in 2009[1] and in 2011.

Disclosure: My firm, then Zinc Research, conducted the 2011 survey. See Survey Methods at the end for more information on the surveys’ methodology.

So what did the surveys find?

  • Calgarians strongly support the legalization of secondary suites

    • In 2009, 85% of telephone respondents supported legalization[2]

    • In 2011, 79% supported legalization of secondary suites

  • Calgarians strongly support having secondary suites in their neighbourhood

    • In 2009, 76% of telephone respondents supported this position

    • In 2011, 75% supported secondary suites in their neighbourhood

  • "As a homeowner, I would accept my next door neighbour building a legal suite, subject to regulations"

    • In 2011, 77% of Calgarians agreed

  • "Increasing the availability of secondary suites makes Calgary a more affordable place to live."

    • In 2011, 85% of Calgarians agreed

This latter point is more relevant now than three years ago. The average cost of a home is now over $500,000, and vacancy rates on rental properties are at historical lows. The city also has a higher inflation rates among urban centres in Canada, thus the cost of living is rising. Since 2011, with the strength of the Alberta economy, 104,258 more people (9.6% growth) have moved to our city. We don't have to look far to observe this impact. There is always someone posting on Facebook that they know a friend or family member looking for housing in Calgary. Access to housing, let alone affordable housing, has become extremely challenging in the city. And many homeowners are more than willing to offset their mortgage with a supplemental rental income from a secondary suite. Further, the voices of business and community leaders are reinforcing the public's willingness to support legalization.

With the city now a place of first landing for new Canadians, and population projections forecasting more growth, Calgarians will likely continue to strongly support the legalization of secondary suites in their city.

-Brian Singh


About the author

Brian Singh is a market researcher, economist and business strategist with over 20 years of experience. Working with startups and global organizations alike, he has served as an advisor and project manager in such industry sectors as tourism and hospitality, the environment, engineering, retail, financial services, health and wellness, and information technology. Brian assisted with polling and strategy for Naheed Nenshi’s successful 2010 mayoral campaign and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman’s successful 2014 campaign. 

Survey methods

Both surveys used "mixed mode"  meaning more than one method was used to collect data. City Spaces/Mustel Group used a telephone survey to obtain a representative sample of 501 Calgarians (plus an additional 229 via a link online at The City of Calgary's website that were "self-selected" respondents). Zinc used a combination of online panel (a technique widely used in the polling industry) and telephone interviews (to oversample specific areas of the city) to yield a population representative sample of 1,580 Calgarians. Also, wherever possible, we used the exact same wording of the questions and tried to replicate the flow the of the 2009 survey.


[1] City Spaces and the Mustel Group conducted the survey in 2009

[2] 74% of self-selected online respondents also supported legalization