On Tuesday, with a 9-6 vote, Calgary City Council approved city-wide rezoning, opening the door for missing middle housing across the city as housing affordability continues to become a bigger and bigger issue.

With the approval, which makes RC-G the base land use zoning district effective August 6, 2024, semi-detached homes, rowhouses, and townhouses will become allowable uses — by right — on residential lots currently zoned for single-family homes in both new and established areas of Calgary.

This allows property owners to materialize additional housing faster by removing the need for a time-consuming rezoning process, enabling them to proceed directly to the development permit application, after which they can proceed to the traditional building permit stage. The change does not forbid the construction of single-family homes.

Property owners can begin submitting development permit applications effective immediately, but no decision on them will be made until after August 6, the City has said.

"This decision is a response to Calgary's housing crisis by enabling an increased housing supply and housing choices," said the City in a press release on Tuesday. "The actions taken by Council today will significantly speed up the time to deliver homes to Calgarians, remove barriers and uncertainty, and reduce costs."

"Before the public hearing began, it was clear that housing is the top issue on Calgarians' minds and is truly the problem of our time," added Mayor Jyoti Gondek. "The stories Calgarians shared over the past few weeks painted a stark picture of the housing challenges being faced in this city. Council's decision confirms our commitment to meet that problem with the tools and plan we have."

That public hearing lasted 15 days, with 736 individuals voicing their feedback to Council and 6,101 individuals submitting written comments — marking the largest public hearing in Calgary's history.

The feedback that Council heard did not go unaddressed, either, with Council also approving a series of amendments.

Those amendments include adding Contextual Single Detached Dwelling as a permitted use in R-CG districts, removing bicycle parking stall and mobility storage locker requirements for single-detached and semi-detached homes, removing backyard suite parking requirements, and allowing both a backyard suite and a secondary suite on one lot.

Another approved change the City made, which was recommended by City Administration prior to the public hearing, was to make it easier for residents to provide input on development permits in their communities.

"We heard clearly from Calgarians that they care about the state of housing city-wide, and also about what gets built next door," said General Manager of Planning & Development Services Tim Keane. "Both of these matter to the City too. We are committed to enabling more homes and making sure they fit well into our communities."

With city-wide rezoning now approved, the City also checks off one of the biggest action items from the "Home Is Here" housing strategy that was approved in September.

The approval likely also clears a point of contention between the City and the federal government. Last fall, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities Sean Fraser said that the Government of Canada would not approve Calgary's Housing Accelerator Fund application until it ended exclusionary zoning. The federal government later approved the application for $228M in November after the City green-lit its housing strategy, but Fraser threatened to withhold funding again this March after delays to approving the city-wide rezoning.

With the rezoning approved and a hurdle preventing federal funding from flowing seemingly cleared, Calgary can now focus on the other action items outlined in its housing strategy, while continuing its fight to preserve housing affordability.