One of my opponents has made a number of allegations regarding my support of legalising secondary suites throughout the City because I recused myself from three votes on this issue in 2011. These allegations are completely unsubstantiated and false.
I have been a strong supporter of legalising secondary suites throughout the city during my time on Council. In 2011, whilst my Wife and I were constructing our home and we decided to build a secondary suite for our Nanny.
In order to construct a legal secondary suite in my neighbourhood, it is necessary to obtain a Land-Use Re-designation, which ultimately has to be approved by City Council.
The Municipal Government Act is very clear that if a Councillor could personally benefit financially from a Council decision, you must declare a Pecuniary Interest and recuse yourself from the vote. Assuming Council had decided to legalise secondary suites, I would not have to apply (and pay for) a Land Use Re-designation, thus reducing my costs to build a suite.
I was concerned that I may have a conflict of interest on this issue as my Wife and I were deep into the process of trying to build a secondary suite. I sought and received the advice of the City Solicitor, who confirmed that I did indeed have Pecuniary Interest and was subsequently advised that I must recuse myself from the vote, which I did.
After a lengthy community consultation, several architectural plans, and dozens of meetings, my Wife and I ultimately decided not to purse construction of the secondary suite due to the incredibly difficult and expensive process involved in obtaining approval for suites in established neighbourhoods. My Wife and I discovered first hand how difficult and expensive it is to build a legal suite in Calgary and were forced to abandon the project.
During the construction process, we made the decision to lay a foundation for the garage so that one day we, or the future owners of our home could build a lane way house.
Currently, we do not have plans to build a new suite in the immediate future as we have accommodated our Nanny within our home eliminating the urgency, however we have left the door open should our family situation change in the future and I am no longer a sitting Member of Council.
It is extremely disappointing and perplexing that I am being attacked for acting in an ethical manner. This type of politics does nothing to further the debate on this important issue. I have been a strong supporter of legalization of suites throughout the City and will continue to work with Mayor Nenshi on trying to pass a by-law to make this happen.