Mayor Naheed Nenshi made no bones about his distaste for the painstaking process, which sees him and Calgary’s 14 city councillors deliberate and vote on each application, one by one.
This unusual process for a city of Calgary’s size requires hours of time from a council that is among the most highly compensated in the country.
The mayor earns more than $216,000 in annual salary, and councillors earn more than $115,000 each.
Council members don’t get paid overtime but many city staff members do, and it has been estimated that comes with about $10,000 in additional costs for an extra four hours.
It also requires members of the public to sit and wait, often for hours — sometimes days — for their chance to speak in favour or against a given application.
“People get to take a day or two days off work to come down and ask to be able to do something with their own property,” the mayor said.
“The whole thing is really kind of silly.”
But Coun. Andre Chabot sees it differently.
He bristled at the suggestion of changing the process for secondary suites, specifically, just because they are relatively small projects, noting other types of land-use amendments are handled directly by council.
“I think everyone should be offered the same opportunity to speak in favour of their project or in opposition to a particular project,” he said.
“I don’t think the scale of the project should be what regulates whether this process is applied. My opinion is that it should be all or none, and I think it’s a great process.”