A professor of planning says both renters and buyers in Calgary are feeling the impact of higher prices – and she says the city should adopt recommendations from its housing affordability task force to tackle the issue.
Sasha Tsenkova, a professor of planning at the University of Calgary, said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Wednesday that rental costs in Calgary have increased by 37 per cent over the last year and house prices have risen by 40 per cent during that time.
“A lot of people are really squeezed out of the marketplace,” she said.
“It’s essential that the housing crisis and its magnitude and proportions are addressed in a manner that is robust and resilient, and will survive the test of time.”
Tsenkova highlighted a recent task force report on affordable housing in the city of Calgary that included a number of recommendations to help ease pressure in the housing market, and pointed in particular to a recommendation related to increasing inner-city density by introducing a blanket change to zoning rules that would allow up to four units on single-family lots.
“What is really important is to recognize that this is a growing city, it’s a city of 1.4 million people and change is inevitable in these kinds of circumstances,” she said.
“We have a different profile of housing demand, we have rapidly growing single family, single person households, but also seniors that are 20 per cent of the people living in Calgary,” she said adding that the city needs to provide a diversity of housing options.
In June, the Calgary city council rejected all of the recommendations from its housing affordability task force in an all-or-nothing vote.
But some of the recommendations are being revisited this week, as city council is set to debate affordable housing measures at focused meetings on the issue.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Thursday that the city is now looking at housing strategy that was created in response to recommendations put forth by the housing and affordability task force.
She said in total there are about 30 recommendations and around 60 potential actions the city could take to improve housing affordability.
“There’s a lot of different components in here, and probably one of the ones that is getting a lot of airtime is the move towards changing our base land use district,” Gondek said.
“Plainly said, right now the base land use district is one unit of housing on a single lot. What we’re proposing would allow for one, two, three or four.”
Gondek also stated that the federal government’s move to eliminate GST on the construction of new rental apartment buildings is “absolutely critical.”
“This is quite significant. It was an advocacy position that we were going to take as a council anyway. So I’m very happy to see this move forward,” she said.
As we start deliberations on how we best address Calgary’s housing crisis, #yyccc has just received this letter of support from the federal minister of housing @SeanFraserMP – we will jeopardize or lose federal funding if we do not approve the full strategy. We must act now. pic.twitter.com/PRVDWOPPfV
— Jyoti Gondek (@JyotiGondek) September 14, 2023