Hundreds attend SE councillor's meetings to voice concerns about upzoning proposal

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong meets with hundreds of residents at Midnapore School on Thursday night to hear their concerns about the City of Calgary’s upzoning plan. (Scott Dippel/CBC - image credit)
Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong meets with hundreds of residents at Midnapore School on Thursday night to hear their concerns about the City of Calgary’s upzoning plan. (Scott Dippel/CBC - image credit)

Hundreds of people attended two meetings this week organized by veteran city councillor Peter Demong on the city's proposal to upzone a wide swath of Calgary to create more housing.

The proposal would see the zoning on more than 300,000 properties currently rated for single-family houses changed to allow for townhouses, semi-detached units and row houses.

It is just one of the ideas included in the city's new housing strategy, which was approved by city council last September. For the upzoning plan to be implemented, it requires a public hearing and a separate vote by council.

Demong's meetings were held on Tuesday in Lake Bonavista and on Thursday in Midnapore. Hundreds of people attended each session.

And it was clear that they do not support the upzoning proposal.

Implications feared

Concerns were expressed about a lack of consultation, potential impacts to property values, parking and infrastructure.

"Everybody I've reached out to across the city, they don't even know the difference between R-1 and R-CG (zoning)," said one woman.

"You're going to have little houses everywhere, ruining everyone's house values. Ruin their neighbourhoods. Eyesores!", said one resident.

Another woman had this plea for Demong: "We pay our taxes. We always have. Just leave us alone."

Demong said he called the meetings to get a read on how people in his ward feel about the proposal, to give them a chance to learn about the rezoning and to answer their questions about it.

He said he wasn't surprised to find a lack of support for upzoning at the meetings.

"I understand it. I get it. I don't want this to go forward either. This is their homes. This is where they live and we're talking about coming in and changing the structure of a community at some point and I don't agree with it," said Demong.

He reminded the crowds that he voted against the new housing strategy which was approved 12-3 by council last year.

Open mind

Demong was also among a group of six councillors who pushed their colleagues to send the upzoning matter to a plebiscite alongside the October 2025 municipal election. Their effort was defeated on an 8-6 vote by city council.

However, Demong was quick to acknowledge that he has to keep an open mind ahead of this month's public hearing.

"I have voted against this twice and I will still continue to be amenable to persuasion because that is my job. I sit there. I listen to people and I come to the best conclusion I can with the facts in front of me."

Talk is already building on council about ways to amend the proposal.

Demong has some ideas of his own.

"I will certainly be putting forward the fact that you can't have [both] a backyard suite and a secondary suite on these R-CGs," said Demong. "I think I'm going to try to do something with parking, but I don't know if I'll be successful there."

The councillor is encouraging his residents to learn about the upzoning proposal.

Misinformation out there

He acknowledged that there are still plenty of questions and that based on what he heard at this week's meetings, a lot of people have misconceptions about what it does or does not actually include.

"I am always worried about misinformation in the general public. It's something that I fight on a daily basis in almost all aspects of my job."

A number of his colleagues on council have already held community meetings on the upzoning plan.

Next week, Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian will hold a virtual meeting on Monday while Coun. Andre Chabot will host a town hall meeting in Ward 10 on Thursday.

City council will hold what's expected to be a marathon public hearing on the blanket rezoning proposal, starting on Apr. 22.