Calgary councilors want federal housing money and rezoning decision investigated

Calgary councilors want federal housing money and rezoning decision investigated

Two weeks after citywide zoning changes were approved, a trio of Calgary councilors want to know if funding promised by Ottawa had any influence on the decision to make wholesale land use changes.

Council members Dan McLean, Sonya Sharp and Andre Chabot have expressed their intention to file a complaint with the city auditor to investigate how the federal dollars deal came about and whether there were secret meetings about the ongoing debate over the overall rezoning.

“(We want) to see if there was any conversation with federal ministers, or with the prime minister himself, saying, ‘Do this or you won’t get that (funding),'” McLean said on Tuesday.

“I’m not saying there’s any crime here, but I think the public deserves, on something this important, just a really good third-party report.”

At stake is the federal government’s $228 million commitment to Calgary through its Housing Accelerator Fund.

The money was announced last November as part of the effort to increase housing supply.

“We just want to know a chronology of the conversations about who, what, when, where and what was presented at the council,” Sharp said.

The official complaint has not yet been filed and it is unclear who exactly the complaint will be filed against.

The federal money for Calgary will come in four installments of just over $57 million and will be released if certain targets are met.

Officials, pointing to the public contract, say the city has already started or completed most of the initiatives.

The general requirements for the Housing Accelerator Fund money include that Calgary increase its housing supply by almost 42,000 housing units by 2026.

That goal could be achieved through a number of initiatives, including improving the “existing regulatory review and approval process,” “making amendments to land use statutes,” and an effort to “streamline approvals for increase the supply of housing,” the contract states.

“This is all tied to delivering 41,000 units using the various tools that we indicated in that application. One thing we indicated there was that we would try to do a zoning change,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

“The only thing I read somewhere is that there were secret meetings with the federal government and that there are secret council meetings that not everyone was invited to. That’s not true, so I have no idea what kind of investigation they are talking about ”