Real Estate

Calgary Real Estate Board opposes citywide rezoning plans

The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) said they believe a proposed citywide rezoning would make the city’s housing crisis worse, citing infrastructure strain, neighbourhood congestion and it not creating the type of housing that will ease the supply crunch.

In advance of an April 2024 public hearing on Calgary’s citywide rezoning, which was part of a comprehensive suite of tools the City believes will address local housing issues, CREB’s media release stated that a more nuanced approach is needed.

“Blanket rezoning is not the right solution to address Calgary’s housing challenges. It poses a significant risk to communities, driving up the level of congestion in neighbourhoods and putting added strain on infrastructure and service quality,” said Hong Wang, Chair of CREB’s Government Relations Standing Committee, in a prepared media statement.

“We oppose this approach and advocate for a more community-focused strategy to respond to Calgary’s housing shortage, shifting the focus away from a generalized housing crisis to the housing supply crisis that blanket zoning will make worse.”

The release went on to say that the citywide rezoning raised “alarm bells” within the local real estate industry, due to the potential to adversely impact the housing landscape and property values.

In most cases, real estate agents are paid a percentage of the sale price of homes.

Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s Chief Economist, said that moving forward with this type of rezoning plan wouldn’t necessarily add the kind of supply needed in the areas where supply is needed the most.

“We’ve had substantial population growth over a short period of time relative to new home starts, and it’s contributed to a lack of rental and ownership supply, causing both rents and home prices to rise in Calgary,” said Lurie.

“The blanket rezoning will not address the problems associated with a lack of affordable rental product, which would require a large-scale approach with a focus on communities with underutilized city land that have access to transit and community amenities.”

In a recent Calgary Herald article, CREB also said they were concerned that single-family home sales would be hampered by rising prices.

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Profit motive in play, says Coun. Walcott

Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott said that the citywide rezoning plan is just an effort to enable more development. He said it’s not specifically about rentals, it’s about creating new housing forms.

In the end, when an industry is driven by profit, any effort to potentially reduce that profit is met with opposition, Coun. Walcott said.

“Any massive efforts to reduce the cost of housing, (I) can understand that when people are in a business, they might want to oppose anything that reduces the potential profit that can be earned,” he said.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that she’d welcome a further conversation with CREB to understand their views on citywide rezoning.

“I would say that if they’re open to having a conversation with the administration or members of council, they should certainly do so. They’ve got their own perspective based on the numbers that they crunch, their perspective as an economist,” she said.

“I think it’s really important for them to come and talk to us as well, about the way that we build great communities.”

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said the real destination is to address the housing challenge. The question is what’s the predominant action that should be taken on that file. He said the city is also looking at strategies to help vulnerable Calgarians, and making surplus lands available for different built forms across the spectrum.

Residents he’s talked to, however, have concerns.

“I know within my constituents, people are concerned about their personal houses, the value of their assets,” he said.

“But it’s not entirely about asset wealth. It’s about lifestyle.”