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Calgary city council to debate city-wide rezoning plebiscite in special meeting

Calgary city council will debate whether or not the proposed city-wide re-zoning will be put in a plebiscite next year at a special meeting of council on Wednesday.

Six councillors — Dan McLean, Andre Chabot, Sonya Sharp, Sean Chu, Peter Demong and Terry Wong — signed a yet-to-be approved motion asking administration to prepare a vote of the electors on city-wide rezoning to be held simultaneously with the municipal election, scheduled for Oct. 20, 2025.

According to the motion, many Calgarians contacted their councillors’ offices in opposition to blanket rezoning, citing concerns related to property values, neighbourhood characters and other potential issues. These issues include crime, traffic and parking, the motion said.

The motion also says blanket rezoning will impact all Calgarians and communities across the city.

“This has caused a bit of a divide, not just in council, but in Calgarians. The plebiscite vote that you’re seeing today is to give Calgarians a democratic right to move forward with this decision in 2025,” Sharp told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

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Sharp added many of her constituents told her the rezoning proposal was being “shoved down their throats” at a town hall she hosted on Monday.

“The biggest issue I heard last night was stripping the democratic right of having to speak to your elected official and giving your five minutes for or against a project in your community,” she said.

“These are investments that for some people, this is all they have is their home in their community. A lot of people aren’t opposed to densifying. The communities are putting densification in the right areas. It’s really removing that democratic process from the land use portion and not being able to come to council chambers to speak.”

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McLean, a supporter of the plebiscite motion, said all decisions regarding redevelopment and rezoning communities should come before council.

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“If we postpone our public hearing to a plebiscite, it’s not going to stop anything from being built,” he said.

“As we already know, the public will be engaged. Council will have a say. Then come the election, the whole city gets to say … It affects every single home, an entire city, so every single Calgarian should have a say on it.”

The rezoning proposal came as part of the City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy, which will rezone properties that currently only allow single or semi-detached homes to R-CG, R-G, or H-GO zones. This will allow duplexes and rowhouses to be built, often called “missing middle housing” by urbanists and advocates for walkable neighbourhoods.

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The change aims to increase the supply of housing to meet demand and reduce costs and timelines for permit approvals, according to administration. The rezoning will also permit “greater housing variety” and options to suit the needs of Calgarians, according to the Housing Strategy.

Click to play video: 'Calgary councilors want plebiscite for city-wide rezoning'

Calgary councilors want plebiscite for city-wide rezoning

Currently, the city-wide zoning issue will be debated after a public hearing scheduled on April 22, which will be cancelled if the plebiscite motion is approved.

On Tuesday, the executive committee voted to postpone the debate to a special meeting of council on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian said she wanted to expedite the process so the city can notify Calgarians via snail mail as soon as possible about the public hearing in April if it’s still happening.

The committee originally wanted to hold a special meeting of council on Tuesday evening following a technical review of the motion, but that would require two-thirds of all councillors — or 10 votes — to agree to do so on the same day. However, Mian confirmed to reporters the meeting would be happening on Wednesday instead because there weren’t enough votes.

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“This is a big issue that Calgarians really care about and the councillors who brought forward (the motion) care about it, too. I think the sooner that we can make a decision, the better it is,” Mian told reporters. “It doesn’t matter what side of the issue you are (on) regarding the plebiscite — the sooner we can decide that the sooner we can move forward.”

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she is willing to call a special meeting of council to get information out to Calgarians as soon as possible.

“The sooner we can those letters in the mail to (Calgarians), the better off we are. Every day is important in a situation like this,” the mayor told reporters on Tuesday. “I don’t want it to be a situation where Calgarians feel like we’ve delayed getting information to them, when in fact the delay is resulting from this notice of motion.”

–with files from Adam MacVicar, Global News.


&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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