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Councillors critical of city's engagement plan on proposed new zoning rules

A multi-family housing development in Inglewood. The city's new housing strategy would see zoning rules change to allow for townhomes and rowhouses in all residential areas. (Bryan Labby/CBC - image credit)
A multi-family housing development in Inglewood. The city's new housing strategy would see zoning rules change to allow for townhomes and rowhouses in all residential areas. (Bryan Labby/CBC - image credit)

Two city councillors are critical of the city's plans for informing Calgarians about a proposed city-wide change to zoning rules.

City council will hold a public hearing on April 22 about the proposal, which would see zoning rules change to allow for townhomes and rowhouses in all residential areas.

It's a key part of the city's new strategy to increase the housing supply.

The city has sent out more than half a million postcards to Calgarians. It's also organizing six public information sessions over the next couple of weeks so residents can learn more about the plan.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said the info sessions are timely but she isn't convinced there's enough of them to allow Calgarians to attend.

So she's organizing a session of her own, perhaps in March.

"My office and I have decided we are also going to do our specific little town hall for all the communities to come specifically to speak to their member of council," said Sharp.

She's unhappy there are only six meetings being held by the city and not at least one session in every ward.

The city has sent out more than half a million postcards to Calgarians, announcing its new housing strategy.
The city has sent out more than half a million postcards to Calgarians, announcing its new housing strategy.

The city has sent out more than half a million postcards to Calgarians, announcing its new housing strategy. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

Sharp said there's a lot of concern among homeowners about the zoning proposal.

"There's a lot of questions. A lot of folks are asking specific technical things that I think is really important for them to ask administration at those sessions."

Postcard issues

Another councillor who has issues with the city's engagement strategy on the topic is Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong.

He's unhappy that the city didn't include details of the public information sessions on the postcards it mailed out to every Calgary address.

As well, the postcard simply provides a web address and a QR (quick response) code.

Wong said he's not getting good feedback on that from older residents looking for information.

"If I have to go to a website, how do I get on the website? Because again, we have constituents who are not as adept on technology," said Wong.

Like Sharp, he expects there will be a lot of interest in the zoning changes. He believes the city should give residents a chance to get involved and learn what they can ahead of the April public hearing at city hall.

In addition to the six information sessions, the city is holding two online sessions for the public on Jan 29 and Feb. 8.

It's also holding two online sessions for the development industry on Feb. 5 and Feb. 12.

The director of city and regional planning with the City of Calgary, Josh White, said the rezoning proposal is an important part of the new housing strategy. He said the city has a multi-faceted plan to inform Calgarians over the next few months.

"We're sharing as much information as possible so that Calgarians understand what this means for the future of Calgary, what it means for them and, importantly, how they can participate in the process," he said.

"We've planned an array of ways to communicate and for people to participate in this."

White said the city's engagement will include online as well as in-person events.