Calgary – Calgary City Council defeated expert housing recommendations yesterday that would have created additional housing units and taken a first step to addressing Calgary’s housing crisis, a crisis students are acutely feeling again this year. A handful of students resorted to temporarily living in their vehicles as they could not find housing last year.
City Council’s refusal to take action on housing will compound an already difficult housing supply and housing market. As students begin to look for housing ahead of a return to Calgary for their studies in September, Council has thrown up additional and unnecessary barriers that affect students and vulnerable Calgarians.
“There’s no other way to say it: Eight members of City Council have made a bad situation worse. Students are at a breaking point and have been left behind by these members of Council,” says Mateusz Salmassi, Students’ Union VP External. “Let’s be clear about what those eight members of Council voted against, they voted against 1,000 additional homes and 3,000 affordable housing units added per year above the normal number of homes. They voted against enabling secondary and backyard suites to add to housing supply. These are basic measures that Calgarians support.”
In the City of Calgary 2022 Fall Survey of Calgarians, affordable housing was identified as one of the areas of lowest satisfaction with the City. A great majority of Calgarians (78%) identified affordable housing as an important City program, with 74% calling for the City to invest in such housing. Investment in affordable housing was top of the list when Calgarians were asked about investment in programs.
“City Council is well aware that Calgary’s reputation as an affordable city is at risk,” says Salmassi. “City Council has money to pay 97% of the up-front cost of the new arena, but apparently neither the money nor the will to support lower income Calgarians, including students, when it comes to housing. This decision risks Calgary’s competitive advantage and risks losing the young, educated people in our city. If they can’t find housing, how can they stay and why would they want to? This decision puts Calgary’s economic future at risk.”
For the second year in a row, residence buildings on the UCalgary campus will be full and the university has no plans to add residence units in the near future. In addition, the University District, a development overseen by the university, has frozen out students by making units largely unaffordable.
On top of that, housing in close proximity to the university remains unavailable or unaffordable for students. Students are being pushed into unsafe rental housing or housing in the far corners of the city, poorly served by transit. This should not happen in a city like Calgary.
While the recommendations may not have had an immediate impact on these concerns, approval would have allowed for the creation of more secondary suites and other housing that would be safe and affordable for students in the medium and long term.
Media Inquiries may be directed to:
Manager, Communications & Government Relations
Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org // 403-560-0577