The Calgary landscape is changing. In past years Calgary has been expanding outwards into ‘suburbia’ with new communities offering homes at more affordable prices. The impact of this direction is now being felt with longer commute times and a downtown core that is becoming less sustainable. Now the direction is changing to creating communities that are walkable with mixed use and higher density, making them financially sustainable.
Neighbourhoods are being developed as their own complete community, with residential, commercial and workplaces. Areas such as Quarry Park in South East Calgary have large apartment buildings with workspaces in the same building or are ‘walk to work’ accessible. The new University Heights development is another example of this trend, with recreation and work areas being designed and built within the community. This is a new vision for Calgary where people do not commute downtown to work but live and work in the same neighbourhood. This reduces costs, congestion on roadways, commute times to work and more.
Another recent change with the shift to increased density is the relative ease of Secondary suite application approvals. A Secondary suite is a self-contained dwelling unit within the main residence that has separate living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities. These are commonly referred to as basement suites or in-law suites. You may have also noticed Backyard suites recently, these are a self-contained dwelling unit in a detached building that has separate living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities. These are commonly referred to as garage suites, garden suites, or laneway homes and are becoming increasingly popular in those areas where zoning allows for them.
Whilst opinion of secondary and laneway suites is mixed, for those homeowners interested in applying, the City of Calgary has waived the fee for secondary suites applications in the last few months (regularly about $3000); and the fee exemption has been extended again for the time being. In addition you may soon see many more laneway homes as the City of Calgary has approved a pilot project of Seniors’ Laneway Housing in some locations where a backyard suite is already allowed.
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