♻️NIMBYs recycling secondary suites objections

Council spent 14 years dithering on secondary suites, we can’t afford to waste time on rezoning

More than six years ago, on March 12, 2018 Calgary City Council approved city-wide secondary suite reform by a close vote of 9-6. This monumental policy was needed to help legalize thousands of illegally constructed suites across the city, provide more housing options and enable homeowners to have more flexibility with their own properties. The highly contentious decision to approve suites came after 14 years of dithering by successive city councils.


NIMBYs warned secondary suites would “destroy” neighbourhoods

The arguments we hear today to oppose legalizing row homes and townhomes in older neighbourhoods as part of Calgary's Housing Strategy are the same we heard in opposition to citywide secondary suites up until they were approved in 2018.


“Allowing carte blanche addition of secondary suites to any homes currently zoned R-1, R-C1 or R-C1L will destroy the fabric of Calgary’s single family neighborhoods.”

-Scenic Acres resident (2018)


"I believe council's proposed changes are an attack on the quality of the community that I invested in 28 years ago,"

-Parkland resident (2018)


“Those of us who live in (these) communities chose them for one reason and that was to have a single-family dwelling. Those communities that are not zoned for secondary suites should not even have the options of having them.” 

-Canyon Meadows resident (2018)


“The presence of secondary suites and/or laneway houses in this district are completely out of character with the community and would have the potential to turn the community into a more transient neighbourhood. Low income renters, potential for Airbnb rentals, potential increase in crime.”

-St. Andrew’s Height resident (2018)


“I do not want to see the character of the neighborhood changed, and I do not want to see the bulk of the family residences become available to occupancy by a more transient population ‐ a higher rental pool is not complementary to the character of this community.

-Auburn Bay resident (2018) 


“Secondary suites are incompatible with the longstanding character of our neighbourhood and the tendency of such suites to bring with them a host of other problems that include traffic / parking and general safety.”

-Royal Oak resident (2018)


“The community of Willow Park is designated as R-1 (Residential - One Dwelling District) and as such amending the current bylaw would change this designation and will not allow in retaining the single-family residential character of the neighbourhood in which I purchased. [...] Objections in Support to the proposed Land Use Bylaw include [...] The demographics will change in our neighbourhood which will lower property values. [...] Increase crime rates as a result of additional people living or visiting the neighbourhood.

-Willow Park resident (2018)


“Applying a blanket policy allowing secondary suites city-wide in a "one-size-fits-all" approach, fails to take into account the scale and character of many of the neighbourhoods throughout our city. [...] To authorise the sweeping Secondary-Suite-Process-Reform is to prevent the additional measure of community preservation the current secondary-suite development process provides. The very nature, scale, and character of many of our Calgary's neighbourhoods and communities are a[t] stake.”

-Queensland resident (2018)


Secondary suites brought incremental change and more housing

The “neighbourhood apocalypse” prophesied by many NIMBYs never came. While the issue was highly contentious at the time, secondary suites are hardly considered contentious today. According to a new CBC report, Calgary’s secondary suites experience didn’t lead to sweeping changes in neighbourhood character even though it has helped introduce thousands of new legal units of housing.

Source: CBC


The sky will not fall after legalizing townhomes and row homes

Image source: Globe and Mail

As for the rezoning proposal before City Council this week, experts who have studied blanket rezoning in other cities argue “it doesn't typically lead to the kind of major, rapid change that some people fear”. But like with secondary suites, we can expect that over time it will create more housing, better neighbourhoods, and a more financially and environmentally sustainable city.


🚨We need your help!

We need your support again to ensure City Council takes action on implementing the Housing Strategy by removing outdated exclusionary zoning banning row homes and townhouses in established neighbourhoods by lending your voice at the public hearing this week.


1) 🗓️ Speak at the public hearing this week

A public hearing on removing outdated exclusionary zoning banning row homes and townhomes will be held on April 22nd, 2024 and likely extend over several days this week.



2) 📋 Join us for the Rally for Housing

📣 Join us for a rally for housing at Monday, April 22 at 12PM in the Municipal Plaza in front of City Hall.


3) 📋 Share the petition of support

Encourage your friends and family to sign the Housing Strategy petition of support.

🤓Further reading