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: http://calgarysecondarysuites.ca/
For more information on Secondary Suite regulation (including times and locations for Open House Information Sessions in your area), please visit http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Home-building-and-renovations/Secondary-suites/Secondary-Suites.aspx?redirect=/suites