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Write to Council

Your participation in advocating for our community's future is crucial. Please take a moment to copy and paste the letter provided below. It's important to send your letter to every councillor and the mayor at the City of Calgary, ensuring your voice is heard.

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Letter

Requesting Plebiscite

Tuesday March 13th, 2024

Calgary City Council voted against a plebiscite 8-6

Against: Jasmine Mian, Raj Dhaliwal, Richard Pootman, Courtney Walcott, Gian-Carlo Carra, Kourtney Penner, Evan Spencer, & Joyti Gondek

In Favour: Sonja Sharp, Sean Chu, Andre Chabot, Dan McClean, Peter Demong

I am writing to express my strongest support for a vote against the citywide RC-G blanket up-zoning bylaw that is expected to be brought forward to Council on April 22, 2024. As a resident of Calgary, I believe it is important for Calgarians to have a voice in decisions that will significantly impact our city’s urban growth and development.


The introduction of the proposed R-CG residential up-zoning bylaw city-wide, has extraordinary implications for all single-family residential property owners in Calgary. Given such a significant and broadly applied zoning change, it is only fair that residents have the opportunity to express their opinions through a vote, especially considering the contentious nature of this issue during its initial stages.

 I am concerned about the degradation and livability of our community if proper planning isn’t availed. This change has many potential detrimental impacts on our communities including increased traffic on roads, inadequate sanitation, loads on power grids, sewage  and drainage systems, community wellness, asset wealth, and where we raise our families. As such, it is a decision that should and must involve the broader community.


I believe that this approach is necessary to ensure that voices of Calgarians are truly heard on this very important matter. I urge you to vote against the signing of the by-law for the blanket rezoning.


Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 


Sincerely,

<Your Name>

Contact Your MLA

Contact Our Provincial Representatives Below (click for copy + paste tutorial)

Don't know who is your MLA? Find out here

Diana Batten - Calgary-Acadia

calgary.acadia@assembly.ab.ca

Amanda Chapman - Calgary-Beddington

calgary.beddington@assembly.ab.ca

Irfan Sabir - Calgary-Bhullar-McCall

calgary.bhullar.mccall@assembly.ab.ca

Demetrios Nicolaides - Calgary-Bow

calgary.bow@assembly.ab.ca

Joe Ceci - Calgary-Buffalo

calgary.buffalo@assembly.ab.ca

Mickey Amery - Calgary-Cross

calgary.cross@assembly.ab.ca

Janet Eremenko - Calgary-Currie

calgary.currie@assembly.ab.ca

Peter Singh - Calgary-East

calgary.east@assembly.ab.ca

Julia Hayter - Calgary-Edgemont

calgary.edgemont@assembly.ab.ca

Samir Kayande - Calgary-Elbow

calgary.elbow@assembly.ab.ca

Parmeet Singh Boparai - Calgary-Falconridge

calgary.falconridge@assembly.ab.ca

Myles McDougall - Calgary-Fish Creek

calgary.fishcreek@assembly.ab.ca

Court Ellingson - Calgary-Foothills

calgary.foothills@assembly.ab.ca

Nagwan Al-Guneid - Calgary-Glenmore

calgary.glenmore@assembly.ab.ca

Ric McIver - Calgary-Hays

calgary.hays@assembly.ab.ca

Lizette Tejada - Calgary-Klein

calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca

Eric Bouchard - Calgary-Lougheed

calgary.lougheed@assembly.ab.ca

Kathleen Ganley - Calgary-Mountainview

calgary.mountainview@assembly.ab.ca

Muhammad Yaseen - Calgary-North

calgary.north@assembly.ab.ca

Gurinder Brar - Calgary-North East

calgary.northeast@assembly.ab.ca

Rajan Sawhney - Calgary-North West

calgary.northwest@assembly.ab.ca

Tanya Fir - Calgary-Peigan

calgary.peigan@assembly.ab.ca

Rebecca Schulz - Calgary-Shaw

calgary.shaw@assembly.ab.ca

Matt Jones - Calgary-South East

calgary.southeast@assembly.ab.ca

Luanne Metz - Calgary-Varsity

calgary.varsity@assembly.ab.ca

Mike Ellis - Calgary-West

calgary.west@assembly.ab.ca

Key Points

1. Law of diminishing returns on our tax dollars:

 

The concern regarding the law of diminishing tax dollars and the impact of additional residents on public infrastructure is as a city densifies, the cost per resident for providing public services tends to increase. This is because while the population increases, the cost of maintaining and expanding infrastructure such as roads, sanitation systems, parks, schools, and hospitals also rises. There is also a maximum number of residents that can be accommodated in a land mass sustainably.

 

Rapid densification without proper planning makes this issue much worse. If the infrastructure is not expanded or improved in tandem with population growth, it can lead to overcrowding, traffic congestion, inadequate access to public services, and overall strain on the quality of life for residents.

 

For example, increased traffic congestion due to insufficient road capacity can lead to longer commute times and decreased air quality. This will have a significant impact on those residents and parks along Elbow drive where speed limits are 30 km/hour. It may have a safety consequence to residents using the Elbow river pathways and children walking to nearby schools because with increased use also comes increased volume and speeds.

 

Also, overcrowded schools may result in larger class sizes and decreased educational outcomes in a
school district that is already over-capacity with both Elboya and Western Canada high schools on a
lottery system. A strain on healthcare facilities can lead to longer wait times and reduced access to
healthcare services. This area doesn’t have a working hospital as the Holy Cross hospital was shut down and the Children’s hospital was repurposed for other health services.

 

Calgary is known for its ample city parks and for its walkability and biking path system. Inadequate parks and green spaces to offset the increased population is not in keeping with other green living and sustainability initiatives.

Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider the long-term impact on public infrastructure before
proceeding with upzoning or any other development that increases population density. Proper planning should include measures to ensure that infrastructure keeps pace with population growth, such as investing in transportation systems, expanding school and healthcare facilities, and preserving or creating green spaces. It's crucial for policymakers and urban planners to carefully consider the long-term impact of upzoning, or increasing the allowed density of development in a given area, on public infrastructure. Proper planning can help mitigate these challenges by ensuring that infrastructure keeps pace with population growth, ultimately creating more sustainable and livable communities.

 

2. Over-Capacity

The concept of a maximum sustainable population for any given land-mass fundamentally means that every area has a carrying capacity. That carrying capacity is the maximum number of residents(human and others) that the land-mass can sustain indefinitely without degrading the environment.

 

For human populations, factors such as availability of resources including; variety in local amenities,
grocery shops, clean accessible water, and affordable energy, waste absorption capacity (ability of the environment to absorb and process waste), and environmental harm (including pollution and habitat destruction) play crucial roles in determining the sustainable population level.

 

Understanding and respecting this maximum sustainable population is important for ensuring that
development and growth do not exceed the capacity of the environment to support life. Overpopulation can lead to resource depletion, environmental degradation, and decreased quality of life for the inhabitants. Sustainable development practices aim to balance human needs with the capacity of the environment to support those needs both now and in the future.

 

3. Environmental harm
 

Even if population capacity is sensitively handled, densification may cause environmental harm to the Elbow River water system resulting from increased runoff carrying pollutants, as well as potential sewage and waste disposal issues if infrastructure is not adequately upgraded to handle the increased population. This can have serious consequences for water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems.

 

The impact on wildlife, including wolves, deer, rabbits, and waterfowl, can be significant. As their habitats are disrupted or destroyed to make way for new development, these species may face challenges in finding food, shelter, and safe breeding grounds. Increased human activity and the presence of domestic pets associated with denser populations can also disrupt wildlife behaviour and lead to conflicts.

 

A thorough environmental impact assessment for the West Elbow Local Area is needed and will help identify potential risks and develop mitigation strategies to minimize harm to the environment and wildlife. It's essential that this environmental assessment be conducted before any upzoning takes place to ensure that development is sustainable and environmentally responsible.

 

4. Housing affordability


While upzoning may work on some targeted blocks and neighbourhoods, this type of policy can also lead to pricing out residents in other areas or lead to slum-like rental conditions. The blanket application of upzoning may not achieve the intended objectives. We need to advocate for more targeted and thoughtful approaches to upzoning that consider the unique characteristics and needs of different areas.

 

The idea here is that while upzoning can be a useful tool for increasing housing supply and affordability in specific areas, applying it broadly across a community may not yield the desired outcomes.

 

  1. Targeted Impact: Upzoning can work well in certain blocks or neighbourhoods where there is a demand for increased density and where it aligns with the existing infrastructure and neighbourhood characteristics. However, in other areas blanket upzoning can lead to gentrification and displacement as property values rise and lower-income residents are priced out.

  2. Unintended Consequences: The blanket upzoning may not achieve the intended objectives of increasing affordable housing and improving housing access for all income levels. It may instead exacerbate income inequalities and create social and economic challenges in communities that are already struggling.

  3. Need for Thoughtful Approach to Upzoning: Advocates for more targeted and thoughtful approaches to upzoning argue that policies should consider the unique characteristics and needs of different areas. This might involve zoning changes that are tailored to specific neighbourhoods or blocks, taking into account factors such as existing housing stock, infrastructure, and community preferences.


Overall, the key message is that while upzoning can be a valuable tool for addressing housing issues, its application should be carefully considered and tailored to the specific circumstances of each neighbourhood to avoid unintended consequences.

Template Letter 1

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to express my concerns regarding the proposed blanket upzoning of our neighbourhood to R-CG. While I understand the need for urban development and growth, I believe that the current approach may not be sustainable and could have negative consequences for our community.

 

Firstly, I am concerned about the law of diminishing tax dollars and the impact of additional residents on public infrastructure. Rapid densification without proper planning will put a strain on our roads, sanitation, parks, schools, and hospitals. It is essential to consider the long-term impact on public infrastructure before proceeding with any blanket upzoning. Therefore, it is imperative for the City of Calgary to carefully consider the long-term impact on available public infrastructure before proceeding with any proposed upzoning or any planned developments that increase population density. Proper City of Calgary planning must include measures to ensure that infrastructure keeps pace with population growth, such as pre-investing in transportation systems, expanding school and healthcare facilities, and preserving or creating green spaces.

 

Secondly, for human populations, factors such as availability of resources (like variety in local amenities, grocery shops, clean accessible water, and affordable energy), waste absorption capacity (ability of the environment to absorb and process waste), and environmental harm (including pollution and habitat destruction) play crucial roles in determining the sustainable population level. Understanding and respecting this maximum sustainable population is important for ensuring that development and growth doesn’t exceed the capacity of the environment to support life. In my opinion, the City of Calgary hasn’t clearly demonstrated to me that blanket upzoning provides the City of Calgary sufficient time horizon for sustainable development or to effectively manage the strain on resources from the expected population growth. Overpopulation can lead to resource depletion, environmental degradation, and decreased quality of life for all residents. Sustainable development practices aim to balance human needs with the capacity of the environment to support those needs both now and in the future.

 

Thirdly, even if densification can be sensitively managed by the City of Calgary planning department, it may still cause environmental harm to the Elbow River water system resulting from increased runoff carrying pollutants, as well as potential sewage and waste disposal issues. This can have serious consequences for water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems. Additionally, the impact on wildlife, including wolves, deer, rabbits, and waterfowl, in and around communities with eco-sensitive green spaces can be significant. As their habitats are disrupted or destroyed to make way for new development, these species may face challenges in finding food, shelter, and safe breeding grounds. Increased human activity and the presence of domestic pets associated with denser populations can also disrupt wildlife behaviour and lead to conflicts. 

 

Lastly, I am concerned about the degradation to the vibrancy and livability of our community if proper planning isn't used and densification occurs solely as a result of the pricing system. It is crucial to prioritize affordability and sustainability to ensure that our community remains a vibrant and livable place for all residents. Blanket upzoning may not achieve the intended objectives of increasing affordable housing and improving housing access for all income levels. It may instead exacerbate income inequalities and create social and economic challenges if development isn’t thoughtfully planned. So, while upzoning can be a valuable tool for addressing housing issues, the unique circumstances of each neighborhood should be considered and targeted application of upzoning may be a more sustainable approach to avoid unintended consequences. I believe it is essential for the City of Calgary planning department to hold public consultation sessions to
discuss this issue further with residents, and explore potential solutions that prioritize both affordability and sustainability.


I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Sincerely,

Template Letter 2

The citywide blanket rezoning for single family neighbourhoods will be the biggest change to residential zoning in Calgary since the creation of the land use bylaw.
 
We agree that it is important that Calgary provides decent, safe, and stable housing that is deeply
affordable for those who need it.  But we do not believe blanket up-zoning will result in this outcome. We support targeted density and sensible redevelopment that respects the desires of diverse communities across Calgary. Blanket up-zoning is not a good idea because it will not achieve the city’s desire to provide more, and affordable housing on a timely basis and it will have a negative impact on all existing single-family neighbourhoods– no community will be spared.

 

Our community wants the City to take it to a Plebiscite because this issue affects every
residential community in the City (Old or New, Inner City or Suburban) every home in the city. The City held a plebiscite for the Fluoride issue and the Winter Olympics. This is the only way to get a true picture of what Calgarians want. This blanket rezoning bylaw may only benefit developers and does absolutely nothing for affordable housing nor the provision of housing on a timely basis. During a plebiscite all stakeholders will have sufficient time to present their arguments to the entire city and then every Calgarian can have their say with their vote.

 

Conversations with our residents and other community association members/directors over the past few months have raised a lot of sound planning, engineering, economic and transportation reasons why densification is not necessarily a good idea in every single-family neighbourhood. Density can benefit the city and communities if it is well planned.  However, blanket up-zoning creates density without regard for community context and may even be contrary to many City/Community negotiated Local Area Plans. City Hall owns many parcels of land on transit corridors (LRT Stations) and other suitable sites that can provide immediate land for densification without destroying single family communities.  

 

The City should encourage truly affordable housing by upzoning for high density projects along major road/transit corridors, LRT sites, and vacant or under utilized commercial sites. We suspect that will provide more housing faster than the proposed blanket up-zoning. Smaller, minimalist style units, at these locations, would require a minimal amount of parking and produce truly affordable housing. This is what we need to focus on for folks just starting out or having a hard time making ends meet.

 

Calgary would receive $228 M from Ottawa (25 per cent of the funding up front and 25 per cent each year thereafter for three years) and must approve blanket rezoning to meet the terms of the agreement. They would also have to add 6,880 new units by 2027 and 36,000 by 2033. The thing is $228 M doesn’t buy a lot of homes. It advances an ideology, a war against single-family homes and the car.

 

When City Hall mentions that you can remove a single-family home and replace it with a fourplex, or row housing (4 units) does that also allow for four basement suites as well. So now there could be 8 residential units instead of one. The City is proposing 0.5 of a car per living unit. So, in a fourplex with basement units, they will only be required to provide 4 on-site parking stalls. Can we assume there will only be one car per unit with 4 cars or more seeking limited street parking.

 

In ten years when all cars sold in Canada are to be electric, how long an extension cord are we going to need to power our EV because we can’t park close to your home charging station.
With the multiple living units on site and some on-site parking will there be room for a yard for children’s play equipment, a dog run, or even storage of bikes, BBQs, patio furniture, snow tires, etc.

 

Calgary’s tree canopy and urban forest will disappear as too will its positive benefit to our environment.

 

Every house today comes with 3 garbage containers, how many can we expect on these sites and where are they going to be stored.

 

As densification occurs (maybe slowly, maybe quickly depending on the neighbourhood), will the infrastructure (road network, water, sewer and electrical) be able to handle the increased loading. Who will pay for the required upgrades? Can all services be upgraded to accommodate this densification?

 

While housing is an important need, let’s not forget the 1,000,000 plus people that Ottawa allowed into Canada in 2023 also need doctors, nurses and medical facilities, teachers, ESL assistance, and schools, parks and libraries as well as a myriad of other services. Has Ottawa provided the financial and other resources to the Provinces and Cities needed to service these people? Why do our neighbourhoods need to be disrupted because of a failed immigration policy?

 

By eliminating the possibility to object to land use changes in front of council, the City is effectively
silencing its residents. We believe citizens should have an active and respected role in the decision-
making process where it impacts their properties and communities. We demand this proposed blanket zoning be put to a plebiscite.

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