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City council to vote tomorrow on plebiscite for zoning overhaul

City council will vote tomorrow afternoon on whether or not Calgarians will get to directly vote on a proposal to rezone all residential areas in the city.

It comes after a notice of motion for the plebiscite was endorsed by at least six councillors last week

The motion was initially set to be discussed on March 19, but Mayor Jyoti Gondek, with the support of several councillors, called for a special meeting tomorrow to move it up the agenda. 

Gondek said it was important to vote on the motion as soon as possible before the planned public hearing for the rezoning proposal on April 22. 

“There are letters that are due to go out to all homeowners to let them know about the proposed change, about the public hearing,” said Gondek. 

“Those letters are on hold until we review this notice of motion and deliberate it. Waiting an extra week for those letters is waiting an extra week to inform homeowners of what might be coming. So we’re trying to expedite information getting out to the public.” 

If the motion to hold a plebiscite is passed, the public hearing on April 22 will be cancelled. 

Instead, Calgarians would either vote on the rezoning rules during the next municipal election in 2025, or take part in a standalone plebiscite that could be called sooner. The city said the latter option could take up to eight months to organize and cost up to $5 million. 

The rezoning proposal is a key part of the city’s housing strategy — which the city says is an important measure to address housing supply and affordability.

If approved, it would allow row houses and townhomes to be built in residential areas on lots currently zoned for single family houses.

But some city councillors believe Calgary residents still don’t have enough of a say in the changes, which is why they’re hoping to take it to a vote.

Coun. Jasmine Mian was in favour of calling the special meeting to discuss the plebiscite motion tomorrow.

“This is a big issue that Calgarians really care about … And I think the sooner that we can make a decision, the better it is,” she said. 

Gondek said she’s concerned that holding a plebiscite will delay progress on the city’s housing strategy, and stop more homes from being built. 

“A year and a half delay on talking about something that could alleviate the housing pressures that we have seems very odd to me,” she said. 

“Tying it to an election means that folks are interested in making it an election issue. I would prefer to see the housing crisis treated for what it is.”

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