Growing Pains: Calgary and Illegal Secondary Suites


Calgary is a very large city. As of 2014 over 1.2 million people now call our city home. Unfortunately, this means housing prices have skyrocketed in the last few years. This means finding a place to call home is becoming harder, with Calgary having only a 1.4% rental vacancy rate, one of the toughest in North America.


To help meet this growing need, many Calgarians have taken single family dwellings and partitioned them into multiple family homes, and often not legally. This allows many homeowners to help offset the cost of their mortgage, and helps to address the lack of affordable housing in Calgary. It is estimated that 16, 000 of these illegal Secondary Suites exist. These Secondary Suites, often located in basements, are grossly unregulated. A growing number of affordable housing advocates, including Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi, in the city are lobbying City Council to come up with a plan to regulate Secondary Suites. City council is looking at launching a campaign about Secondary Suites, and aims to create a plan in order to bring all illegal Secondary Suites into compliance with the law. The current plan is to start with door-to-door canvassing in select neighbourhoods in order to educate Calgarians about rules for legalizing Secondary Suites. City Council also hopes to create an online registry of legal suites, and issue stickers so that prospective tenants can know which suites are safe and legal.


This issue affects many Calgarians, particularly post secondary students. Calgary is home to many post secondary institutions including the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and the Alberta College of Art and Design. With expensive on-campus living options being scarce, many students have turned to basement suites to fulfill their housing needs.This has student groups concerned, as many of students are exposed to potentially unsafe situations because of a lack of regulation. One group of students at Mount Royal University conducted an indepth investigation into the issue, and posted their results here:


For more information on Secondary Suite regulation (including times and locations for Open House Information Sessions in your area), please visit


Shopping in Calgary: Chinook Centre

Shopping in Calgary: Chinook Centre

Chinook Centre

Chinook Centre is definitely the go-to shopping mall in Calgary. This vast complex is home to over 250 shops, two full department stores (the Hudson’s Bay and Nordstroms), a professional tower, a full food court, and a cinema. Chinook Centre is able to meet everyone’s shopping needs, offering a range of stores for all budgets.


Chinook Centre is located at 6455 Macleod Trail South West, at the intersection of Macleod Trail and Glenmore Trail. Its hours of operation are Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 9:00 pm, and Sundays and Holidays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.


Chinook Centre also now boasts a Weekend Valet Service. Available Fridays and Saturdays between 11am and 10pm (last car accepted at 8pm) and Sundays and Holidays between 12pm and 7pm (last car accepted at 5pm). The main drop off is located near the centre of the mall in the West Parkade (P3) by Build-a-Bear. Chinook Center also offers a complimentary shuttle service between Chinook Center and the Chinook LRT Station.



To help you find what you are looking for, Chinook Centre is now equipped with an interactive directory system, allowing you to search for a specific shop or browse by category.


Since Chinook Center is always busy, it definitely pays to come early on the weekends and holidays in order to find parking quickly. In the evenings in particular, the South Parkade is particularly busy as it is located closest to Chapters and the Scotiabank Theater Chinook Cinema (both of which are open later than the rest of the mall). The quietest parkade is typically the West Parkade, making it a good place to try and find parking on a busy day.


For a complete list of all shops available (and their phone numbers), please visit . Also, please not that while Target is still listed, Target Canada declared bankruptcy in February of 2015. They are currently undergoing the liquidation process, but may only be open for a few more weeks. As of right now it is not known what will be done with the space they are vacating.


Images courtesty of



Calgary synagogues and other places of worship.


Synagogues in Calgary


Welcome! We are so glad you have chosen to make Calgary your new home! To help you settle in, here is a list of the synagogues in Calgary.


  • Beth Tzedec Congregation

Beth Tzedec is a vibrant and welcoming Conservative congregation, lead by Rabbi Shaul Osadchey. It is located at 1325 Glenmore Trail SW, and offers a variety of programs, including those aimed at youth and families. For more information, please visit


  • Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta

Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta is a vibrant and engaging Orthodox synagogue, led by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Offering a variety of community oriented programs, this synagogue is located at 523 Woodpark Boulevard SW. For more information, please visit


  • Congregation of House of Jacob Mikveh Israel

House of Jacob Mikveh Israel is a warm and welcoming Orthodox synagogue, led by Rabbi Yisrol. This synagogue offers a variety of family friendly activities, and is located at 1613 92nd Ave SW. For more information, please visit


  • Temple B’nai Tikvah

Temple B’nai Tikvah is a warm and engaging Reform synagogue, led by Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman. This synagogue offers a variety of faith based programs aimed and individuals, youth and families. It is located at 900 47th Avenue SW. For more information, please visit


Additional Places of Interest


Calgary is also home to the Calgary Jewish Community Centre. This very welcoming non profit organization offers a variety of educational, social, cultural and recreational programs geared at both individuals and families of all ages and backgrounds. For more information, please visit

Churches in Calgary

Freedom house is located at 4510 Macleod Trail S. around back behind the Calgary Dream Centre.  It is a very open and welcoming church that is a satellite church of First Assembly.  Pastoral Staff are Jeff and Angie Fry and they are the cousins of Robb too!

Mosques in Calgary


  • Baitunnur Mosque

Baitunnur Mosque is a friendly and welcoming mosque located at 4353 54th Avenue NE. The largest mosque in Canada, Baitunnur offers a variety of religious and community events under the leadership of Imam Umair Khan. For more information, please visit


– Calgary Islamic Centre


The Calgary Islamic centre occupies two facilities, one in the South West and one in the North West. The North West mosque is located at 7750 Ranchview Drive NW, and the South West mosque is located at 5615 14th Avenue SW. This community orientated mosque offers a variety of events and services, including community and business services. As a newcomer to Calgary, this facility and its accompanying website are an excellent resource. For more information, please visit


Hindu Temples in Calgary


  • Hindu Society of Calgary

The Hindu Society of Calgary acts as a both a temple , and a community centre for many members of Calgary’s Hindu community. This friendly and welcoming temple is open seven days a week from 9 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 9pm. The Hindu Society of Calgary offers a variety of religious and community events, and is located at 2225 24th Avenue NE. For more information, please visit


  • Iskon Calgary


Iskon Calgary is a vibrant and welcoming Hare Krishna temple located at 313 4th Street NE. Acting as both a place of spiritual worship and a community centre, this temple offers a variety of events aimed at both individuals and families and has a standing open invitation to their Sunday Feast, held every sunday at 4pm, that includes vegetarian dishes, plays, films and talks. For more information, please visit


Buddhist Temples in Calgary


  • Calgary Buddhist Temple

The Calgary Buddhist Temple is a warm and welcoming temple that offers a variety of community events in addition to religious services. While the permanent site is under renovations, religious services are being held in a variety of temporary locations with more information located in the Important Dates section of the website’s homepage.. For more information please visit


  • Akshobya Kadampa Buddhist Centre

The Akshobya Kadampa Buddhist Centre is a vibrant and welcoming temple that offers a variety of services including weekly classes, events and study programs. This temple is located at 208 – 2120 Kensington Road NW (on the second floor). For more information, please visit

Curb Appeal – Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Home Staging

Curb appeal is very important, especially when you are looking to sell your home. Curb appeal, how your home looks from the road, is vital when it comes to potential buyers forming their first impressions. A house with excellent curb appeal is more likely to entice potential buyers inside to see the rest of the house. However, a house with poor curb appeal is likely to deter potential buyers. Here are some basic tips to increase your curb appeal and help you sell your home

1. Keep your exterior clean and tidy

Make sure any clutter (children’s toys, the lawnmower, the snow shovel) is hidden away. If it is summer time, make sure your lawn is freshly mowed. If it is winter time, make sure your sidewalk and driveway are shoveled. This not only makes the house look tidier, but will also help potential buyers get to the door without slipping. The last thing you want is for your buyers to be focusing on how much shoveling they will need to do instead of how lovely your home is.


2) Add a splash of colour

If you are starting your pre-selling prep in the spring, consider planting a small garden. If you thumb isn’t quite that green, a couple of potted plants with bright flowers can do the trick as well. If crafty is more your style, consider making a seasonally themed wreath (pastel flowers for spring, bold flowers for summer, rich orange and red leaves for autumn or frosted pine cones for winter). The key is to make your house feel like a home. Putting a little extra effort into the exterior shows potential buyers that you really care about your house, and have taken excellent care of it.


3) Consider a fresh coat of paint.

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a tired looking house. If repainting the whole house is out of your budget, consider repainting something smaller like the front deck or the front door. A house with old, worn looking paint is harder to spruce up then a freshly painted gem. By painting the exterior you are showing that you are willing to go the extra mile to care for your house. Faded paint may not be a major home flaw, but keeping your house’s exterior well maintained shows that you are proud of your home and keep it maintained. The idea of fixing up an old house may be romantic, but most buyers want something they can step right into.


4) Wash your windows

Your windows offer potential buyers a sneak peak into your home. Keeping your windows clean helps make your house look clean, tidy and well maintained. If possible, hire someone to clean the outside of your upstairs windows (safety first!). If you are in a bit of a rush, make sure your downstairs windows are clean, as this is what potential buyers will see first. However, try and make sure you get rid of any really noticeable smudges or fingerprints.

Travel tips for visiting Calgary

Calgary Skyline

Welcome to Calgary! We are so glad you have come to visit our beautiful city! While you are here, we have a few tips to help make your stay more enjoyable.


1)Pack for all types of weather.

The joke in Calgary is that if you don’t like the weather just wait 10 minutes for it to change. The weather here is truly unpredictable, so it pays to pack for all weather. Make sure you bring a warm coat (especially if you are are here in fall, winter or spring), but also make sure to pack some lighter clothes as well. Because of where we are situated in relation to the rocky mountains, we are often subject to “Chinooks” in the winter. A Chinook is when warm air comes over the mountains from the coast, and gives us a temporary reprieve from winter. This often means sunny, spring like conditions, but only for a day or two!


2) Learn to love public transit

Especially if you are staying downtown, or simply visiting the sites, public transit is your friend. Parking downtown is often a test of patience and endurance, and parking prices can be very steep. The main line of the LRT (Light Rapid Transit) runs along seventh avenue. Tourist destinations such as the Calgary Zoo, the Calgary Tower and the Glenbow Museum are all easily accessible using the LRT. Locals also refer to the LRT as the “C Train”, but will recognize both terms. If you are truly stuck, most people are willing to point you in the right direction.


3) Hockey is HUGE

If Calgary’s home team, the Calgary Flames, are playing, expect to encounter crowds. From bars to trains expect crowds. This is particularly true if it is a home game, and you are anywhere near 17th Avenue. 17th Avenue is a well known restaurant district, and is only minutes away from their home arena, the Saddledome. If you know a home game is going to be played while you are visiting, we recommend scheduling your sightseeing accordingly. If you love crowds and hockey then 17th avenue is the place to be. If you are looking for something a little quieter, adjust your itinerary accordingly.


4) If you are downtown, opt for an early or late lunch.

Most retail businesses downtown are relatively quiet during the week. However, if you are downtown on a weekday, plan your lunch stop early or late. Between about 11 am and 1 pm most downtown restaurants are packed with hurried and hungry office workers. To avoid the crush it is best to plan accordingly.

Historical Buildings in Calgary

Welcome to Calgary! We are so glad you decided to make our beautiful city your home. Calgary has many things to offer, including a wide variety of historical buildings. This post includes a quick guide to help you get started. Have fun exploring!


1) Heritage Park Historical Village

Heritage Park Waterfront

Heritage Park is a well known Calgary landmark, and Canada’s largest living history museum. Take a trip back in time to see how the West once was. This park includes five sections, organized by time period. 1860s Fur Trading Fort and First Nations Encampment; 1880s Pre-railway Settlement; C.1910 Prairie Railway Town; and 1930s, 1940s and 1950s Gasoline Alley Museum and Heritage Town Square. The park also includes a midway fair ground full of rides and games, and an authentic and fully functioning steamboat the S. S. Moyie that departs several times daily from the dock for trips around the Glenmore Reservoir. For hours and rates, please visit


2)  Mewata Armory

Mewata Armoury


The Mewata Armory is located in Downtown Calgary at 801 11th Street SW and was built between 1915 and 1918 and is home to The King’s Own Calgary Regiment and The Calgary Highlanders. Built in the Tudor/Gothic revival style, this grand brick building is reminiscent of a medieval fort or castle complete with buttresses and and a crenelated roofline.


3) Lougheed House

Lougheed House


The Lougheed House is a sandstone mansion set on an impressive 2.8 acres of ground. Built in 1891, it was home to Senator James Alexander Lougheed, his wife Lady Isabella Hardisty Lougheed, their six children and a full staff. It is open Wednesday to Friday from 11 am till 4pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Feeling peckish? Visit Isabella’s Cafe for lunch or afternoon tea. For more information, please visit


4) Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary

This National Historic Site is the birthplace of Calgary, where the North West Mounted Police first laid the roots for this historic city. This impressive 40 acre site is located at the conflux of the Bow and Elbow Rivers and includes a museum as well as an interactive interpretive centre. Fort Calgary is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (closed some holidays). For more information please visit

Three of Calgary’s Must Visit Cafés


Welcome to Calgary! I am so glad you have chosen to make this wonderful and vibrant city your home fellow coffee lover. To help you get acquainted with your new home I have compiled a list of Calgary’s must visit cafés. Enjoy!

1) Fratello Analog Coffee – 740 17th Ave Southwest

Analog provides top notch coffee in a bustling and friendly atmosphere. This always busy coffee shop is the chosen meeting place for business professionals and students alike. One of their unique features (aside from their decor) is their music choice. Analog, true to its name, only plays vinyl records. Their extensive collection holds genres for all music lovers. While getting a table can be challenging, the delicious coffee and food more than makes up for it. Daily vegetarian sandwich option available, as well as assorted pastries and sandwiches. An added bonus for Car2Go members: 10% off your purchase on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I recommend the Americano Misto (made with their Single Origin Bean roast) or classic Vanilla Latte paired with their sun dried tomato and grilled cheese sandwich. Craving something sweet? Check out their sister restaurant the Corbaux Bakehouse ( just down the block) for exquisite French pastries. Only drawback: finding a table can be tricky. However, during warmer weather they offer some patio tables and the park across the street is an excellent place to sit, offering plenty of benches and even a gazebo.

2)- 1126 Kensington Rd Northwest

Higher Ground’s cosy atmosphere and comfy arm chairs make it ideal for the quiet coffee lover. Even when the place is packed the noise level remains relatively muted. The perfect spot for a rainy day and a good book. I recommend their London Fog paired with their mouth watering banana bread. Only drawback is the lack of bussing – you may have to clear a table before you sit down at it. This shop is typically busy during the day, but quiets down after six when the other Kensington shops close for the day. Wednesday’s are Global Vegan Night, offering a three course meal for $19 per person, with a new menu each month. Reservations are required for the Vegan Night meal, and can be made here:

3) Café Beano – 1613 9 St SW

Located just around the corner from busy 17th Ave, this coffee shop is seems to be hit and miss as far as crowds go. However, even if it is busy the coffee is worth it. Top of my list is the delectable espresso chocolate milk shake, Vietnamese coffee and the fresh squeezed lemonade! The coffee serving sizes are HUGE, which is both a blessing and a curse. Great for those who can handle it, but if you are sensitive to caffeine you may want to order a decaf. The benches outside make this a great place to sit and people watch in warm weather, but this also means you may have to wait longer to find a seat if the weather is dreary.

Avoiding Rental Scams: A Quick Guide


So you think you have found the perfect place to call home. The neighbourhood is amazing, the property is beautiful and the price is really low. Does the deal sound too good to be true? Unfortunately it might be. The last thing you want is to fall victim to a rental scam, which has the potential to cost you thousands of dollars and even leave you stranded. Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when searching for a new apartment.


1) Heed your gut

If something seems fishy, it probably is. Is the landlord really eager for you to sign the papers right this minute? Are they never available to actually show you the property? It is better to potentially loose out on a great deal then end up loosing a ton of money and ending up in a bind with no place to stay.

2) Never send money without having viewed the apartment and met the person renting it.

It is not the usual practice to hand over large sums of cash without having seen the apartment and met the landlord. Don’t be too trusting! Before you write a cheque make sure you have seen the apartment (in real life, not just photos) and met the landlord. This ensures that the apartment is actually for rent, and for rent by the person you are meeting with. It is also the best way to make sure the apartment is actually as nice as the person renting it says it is.  You don’t want to move in and realize the place is completely uninhabitable.

3) Your security deposit seems REALLY high

According to the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta landlords can only legally insist on a damage deposit that is equal to one month’s rent as well as a portion of the following month’s rent. If rent is only listed at $1000 per month, but the landlord keeps asking for $3000 as a security deposit, it may be prudent to hire a lawyer or simply walk away.

4) The landlord wants to sign the papers right this minute

Most landlords will ask to know your credit score, and many will want a criminal background check and employment verification. You may even be asked for references from previous landlords. If your new potential landlord seems more than eager to skip one or all of these in order to speed up the signing process they may be trying to scam you.

5) You are told a lease is unnecessary

Legally you don’t need a lease to live in an apartment. Some landlords are content with renting on a month-by-month basis. Trust your gut. You may not be offered a lease because your “landlord” doesn’t actually have one. In cases like this, it won’t hurt to ask your potential new neighbours a few questions. Ask if they signed leases for their apartments, and what information they have for you about the apartment you may be renting. You may find out it already belongs to someone else.

6) Be sure your contract is with someone who has the right to rent the property.

If you are dealing with an Owner/Landlord, you can confirm the owners name by pulling a copy of title on the property at any registries office in Alberta.   The regisitry office may ask for a legal address or a LINC number.  These can easily be gathered by contacting your favorite Calgary Real Estate Agent.

If you have further concerns, the Center for Public Legal Education in Alberta’s (CPLEA) website is a wonderful resource. Their Laws for Landlords and Tenants in Alberta page ( and their Renting 101 booklet (which is available for free, shipped from CPLEA – ) are both very helpful.

Budget friendly decorating Ideas for your new home

Home Decor Design

Congratulations on moving into your new home! As the proud new owner, I am sure you are more than ready to begin to make this place your own. To help you get started, here are some handy tips to keep in mind when you are decorating your new home.

1) Keep your wall colours light

Dark or bold colours tend to make a space look smaller than it actually is. In order to make your space seem as roomy as possible, stick to lighter colours such as cream or pastels. If you really aren’t a pastel person, try sticking to white or cream and use bold or dark colours as accent colours. A fresh coat of paint can bring new life to a tired or dated looking room, and is less expensive than redecorating the entire room.


2) Throw pillows and Slipcovers

To update dated or worn looking furniture consider slipcovers and throw pillows. Instead of buying a whole new chesterfield (especially if yours is still in good shape) see if you can buy or make a slipcover for it. This way it looks new, and you can make it fit with you new home perfectly. New throw pillows (or even covers for existing pillows) can help you tie your whole look together without breaking the bank.


3) Don’t be afraid of the thrift store

Provided you are up for the hunt a thrift store can be an unassuming looking treasure trove. Whether you are simply looking for some inspiration, or shopping for a specific vintage style piece, thrift stores and garage sales are a good place to visit. You also don’t have to use your newfound treasures for their intended purposes. Vintage plates can become interesting wall art, and old statues, toys or lamp bases make excellent bookends (especially paired with interesting vintage books!)


4) A little TLC goes a long way

Sometimes it isn’t that we need a whole new room, it is just that the room we love has gotten lost in the clutter. Moving is an excellent time to sift through your stuff and figure out what you really want to keep, and what can be donated or thrown away. Any room looks larger and roomier when clutter is kept to a minimum.


5) Go for a coherent style

Any room is going to look jumbled and cluttered when there are a bunch of different styles mashed together. Pick one, and do your best to stick with it. Whether it is a sleek modern look, vintage eclectic or a more traditional style of decorating coherence is essential to creating a harmonious space. Even if it is something as simple as sticking to a basic colour pallet, you want the objects in your space to work together, not against each other.


6) Wall art is important

Wall art helps to make a space feel cared for, and is an excellent budget friendly way to bring life into a tired looking space. Art doesn’t have to be expensive either. Frame some cheap prints (Ikea is a good place to start), make some simple artwork of your own, or frame something you already have (like the cover of or a page from your favourite novel). What matters most is that the space and its wall art reflect who you are.


7) Don’t forget curtains!

Aside from being practical, curtains can also be used to divide spaces or bring some much needed colour to a bare looking space. Particularly if you are renting (and therefore can’t paint the walls) curtains are a good way to add some personality and colour to your walls.


8) Keep your space clean and clutter free

No matter what your decorating style is your room will always look better if it is tidy than if it is messy, cluttered and dusty. Do your best to keep everything in its place. An excellent way to do this is to coordinate storage space into your decor. Instead of an end table, consider an end cupboard to provide you with extra, hidden, storage room. Add some drawers on rollers to the underside of your bed to store extra bedding, blankets and off season clothing. Drawers are inexpensive to buy or to build, and can be made to match the decor through you choice of knobs and paint colours.

Delicious Delights – A Cross Section of Restaurants on 17th Avenue

Tubby Dog - Open Late

Whether you are planning romantic date, a night out with your buddies or simply don’t feel like cooking tonight, 17th Avenue has a restaurant for you. Home to dozens of restaurants, 17th Avenue is a retail and restaurant hot spot in Calgary. The following is a list of six restaurants offering a variety of cuisines.


Tarboosh – Middle Eastern Donair (~$10 per entree)

Tarboosh is a small, Mom-and-Pop Donair counter-service restaurant offering a variety of Middle Eastern style wraps. The food is hearty and delicious, offering a truly pleasurable dining experience. For a unique experience, pair your wrap with a Laziza pop (the apple is particularly delicious) and a Baklava pastry for dessert! Open till 4am every night.


Tubby Dog – Epic Hot Dogs and Old School Arcade Games (~$10 per entree)

The perfect place for a fun night with your buddies, Tubby Dog is something everyone should experience. Serving hot dogs with a variety of traditional and unique toppings, Tubby Dog is best known for The Captain. The Captain is a hot dog topped with peanut butter and jelly and garnished with Captain Crunch cereal. Are you brave enough to try it? Tubby dog is open till 4am on Friday and Saturday.


Co Do Vietnamese – Pho and Vermicelli (~$10 per entree)

Perfect for a chilly day, Co Do offers delicious Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soups) and Vermicelli (Rice noodles served with veggies, meat and spring rolls, but no broth). Reasonably priced, this quiet restaurant is a little known secret. While 17th Avenue boasts a variety of Vietnamese restaurants, the delicious food, reasonable price point and availability of tables makes Co Do a solid choice. Dishes are available for sit down or take away, but not delivery.


Midori Japanese Cafe – Sushi (~ $10-15 per entree)

The perfect date spot, Midori Japanese Cafe offers delectable sushi in an intimate setting. Their extensive menu never disappoints, and is available for sit down or take out. However, the restaurant itself is small, so come early if you want a table! Open until 9pm on Sundays and 10pm the rest of the week. The edamame is particularly good, and offers a delicious way to sneak vegetables into your diet.


Una Pizza and Wine – Pizza (~ $10-15 per entree)

Always busy, Una’s offers a truly amazing dining experience. Fresh and delicious, Una’s offers something for everyone including “Pizza”, “Not Pizza” and “Salads”. Noteworthy dishes include the 4-magi Pizza (provolone, piccante, friulano, fior di latte mozzarella + pecorino romano, finished with truffle oil + local urban honey), the Walnut Stuffed Persian Dates (which are wrapped in prosciutto, baked and finished with vin cotto) and the Warm Fall Salad (roasted organic root vegetables and arugula topped with a balsamic puree). Expect to wait for a table, but Una’s will text you when your table is ready so feel free to wander. They do not take reservations.