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Secondary suite advocacy campaign hits the U of C

By Emilie Medland-Marchen, October 30 2014 —

As the weather cools, Calgary’s housing debate is heating up. The Urban Calgary Students’ Association (UCSA) is hosting a secondary suites advocacy campaign at the University of Calgary from Nov. 3–14.

UCSA addresses urban development in the city, specifically on changing regulations around secondary suites.

Their campaign will include a student petition in support of regulations to make suites more accessible. The petition, along with student emails expressing their concerns, will be sent to city councillors.

UCSA will hold events in MacHall, Earth Sciences and the Sustainability Resource Centre. There will also be a social event in the Arts Lounge on Nov. 6 with keynote speakers.

UCSA vice-president internal Kylee Van der Poorten believes that talking to city councillors is important.

“It’s not just a student issue. Affordable housing has been something that has been on the agenda for a long time and I really feel like we have to pull from that if we want to make our voices heard,” Van der Poorten said.

Calgary city council will vote to change secondary suite regulations in December. Council delayed the vote a month ago when some councillors were on vacation.

University administration hasn’t taken sides, saying they will continue to “monitor the issue.”

Nilson said finding accessible, affordable rent for students is difficult in a city where the rental vacancy rate is a tight 1.5 per cent.

“The rental [market] near transit and the university is especially difficult,” Nilson said. “Most university students only want an eight-month lease rather than a long-term rent.”

Van der Poorten said students who rent illegal suites don’t have the fire safety regulation and legal rights of renters in legal suites. She said these needs must be addressed.

The SU will release a public statement supporting secondary suites in the near future.

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