Since the Calgarians For Secondary Suites campaign launched on Sept 1st of this year, we have been hearing from dozens of business and community leaders about the pressing need for action on Secondary Suites. On the eve of the major City Council vote on Secondary Suite reform, we've compiled a list of some of the things they have been saying.
Calgary Chamber of Commerce: Adam Legge, President and CEO
"The Chamber, aligned with many other business and social groups in Calgary, believes that the recommended framework being presented to Council on Dec. 15th is a step in the right direction that will help the city overcome some of these challenges in an effort to address a housing shortage that continues to disadvantage our members, and are encouraging City Council to accept this framework and move towards a final decision in permitting more legalized secondary suites in Calgary."
Canadian Homebuilders' Association Endorses Secondary Suites. Amie Blanchette, Director, Government Affairs
"Secondary suites such as basement apartments or accessory suites above a garage provide benefits not only to those seeking a place to live but to the primary homeowners as well. Secondary suites provide a sustainable income stream which can sometimes determine whether or not he owners are able to afford to purchase a home or even remain in their current one."
Calgary Economic Development: F. Bruce Graham, President and CEO
"The business owners and senior leaders we have spoken with told us the cost and availability of all housing types (both rental and ownership) are significant barriers to their ability to attract workers to the city."
UDI: Guy Huntingford, CEO, UDI-Calgary
"UDI-Calgary believes that secondary suites widen the range of housing choice in the city of Calgary and offers one way of helping solve housing affordability."
Thrive: Carolyn Davis, Community Relations Director, Momentum
"We should also appreciate that easing-up on restricting the development of secondary suites accommodates a market-driven response to this issue that enables homeowners to pursue the many benefits of secondary suites while not requiring major public capital investment to effectively respond to Calgary’s affordable housing challenges."
Vibrant Communities Calgary: Joe Ceci, Board of Directors and Franco Savoia, Director
"Many Calgarians now rent illegal suites. The safety of this housing is a primary concern. When suites are legalized conditions need to be met. It allows the City to inspect and ensure compliance with all building and fire code regulations, improving the quality of life for Calgarians."
SU, Leadership in Action, SSA, SAMRU
"Our number one concern is safety. With between 10,000 and 80,000 illegal suites in Calgary, thousands of Calgary residents have no legal protection as tenants. The current situation offers suite occupants no remedy for safety concerns. If their landlord is unwilling to address a concern, tenants cannot appeal to any higher authority as doing so would result in their eviction."
Action to End Poverty in Alberta: Joe Ceci, Coordinator
"The short supply and high demand for housing reduces the amount of affordable options, which means low-income individuals and families will struggle the most. Many Calgarians in these situations will be forced to rent illegally, which poses a number of health safety issues and is not a long-term option for secure, sustainable living."
"For ten seasons (114 episodes), my show on HGTV, Income Property, has consistently demonstrated how secondary suites can help homeowners pay off their mortgage faster by developing unused space within their own home. Homeowners reap the financial benefit by building equity in their homes and tenants are provided with comfortable and safe units in which to reside."
YWCA: Sue Tomney CEO
"Our challenge – and the painful reality for women we support – is that their crisis is often protracted by the lack of safe, appropriate and affordable housing in community to which they can move on."
Servants Anonymous Society: Theresa Jenkins, Interim Executive Director
"In our current situation of illegal suites, neither homeowner or tenant is protected. There are no guidelines, no inspection and thus the health and safety of the tenant is compromised."
Accessible Housing Letter of Support: Jeff Dyer Executive Director, Accessible Housing
"Secondary suites allow individuals with limited mobility to gain independence while remaining in their communities."
Interfaith Council of Calgary: Rev. Dcn. Adrian Martens
"We truly believe that the next step in advancing the common good and the strength of our neighbourliness, so strong in the spirit of our city, is to approve secondary suites."
Office of the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary: F.B. Henry Bishop of Calgary
"Secondary suites are the most cost effective way to add affordable housing without the need for government subsidies. Calgary is the only major city in Canada to not have a policy that allows legal suites city wide."
Donna Kennedy-Glans, QC MLA, Calgary-Varsity
"What many of my constituents recognize, as do I, is the potential for secondary suites to provide choices for seniors and students who want to live in our communities."
Alberta Party: Greg Clark, Leader
"While improving the process for approving legal secondary suties will not be a silver-bullet solution to Calgary’s affordable housing crisis, it is a step in the right direction."
Kent Hehr, MLA, Wood Buffalo
"It is fundamentally unaffordable to live in Calgary. We have a full blown housing affordability and accessibility crisis in Calgary. In our current framework for illegal suites neither the homeowner nor tenant is protected. This is an abnormally cruel way to run a city and that causes the greatest harm to the lease well off, the fringe in our communities, and those who are the closest to poverty and homelessness."
Rachel Notley, MLA Edmonton Strathcona, Leader Alberta’s NDP Opposition
"Calgary faces the lowest vacancy rates and highest rental prices in Canada, and with the growth of 40,000 people each year the cost of housing continues to climb."
Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta
"Lack of accessible and affordable housing is at a crisis point in our city. Persons with disabilities often experience discrimination from potential landlords when seeking housing, sometimes directly related to their need for accessibility and other times directly related to their income."
Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary: Sandra Sutter, President
"SO many other communities like Edmonton have successfully legalized secondary suites. We don’t understand City Council’s reticence and caution."
Family Catholic Service: Patricia Jones, CEO
"We urge you to support the legalization of secondary suites. Given the appreciation in homes in our city, young couples need this help more than when we started."
James K. Gray
"This income would greatly reduce these first-time buyers’ large debt load and allow them to make an investment in our community in this very expense housing market."
Strategic Group: Ken Toews, Vice President, Development
"This shortage is driving rents higher and increasing housing costs for my employeses, my suppliers and their employees. The trickle down effects are driving up my costs of doing business in the city. Secondary suites are a market based solution to increase Calgary’s housing supply and ease the pressure of my labour pool to find adequate housing."
Momentum: Jeff Loomis, Executive Director
"The allowance for legal secondary suites is also a critical economic issue for our city. Many students, individuals, and families who come to Calgary seeking economic opportunity find it difficult to stay and work in our city if they cannot find affordable and sustainable housing options."
Accessible Housing: Jeff Dyer
"Existing laws surrounding secondary suites mean that some individuals with limited mobility are forced to live far away from the services and supports they depend upon."
The Women’s Centre: Jana Lait, Chair of the Board of Directors
"Safe and affordable housing is a major issue for many women in Calgary and this disproportionately impacts low-income women. The legalization of secondary suites could increase women’s access to affordable housing."
"The point is that I am not sure when having a "suite in the basement" became such a big issue."