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Photo by Daman Singh

The Students’ Union mobilizes students on the issue of student housing and municipal zoning laws

By Nazeefa Ahmed, April 10 2024—

From Apr. 4 to Apr. 9 the Students’ Union (SU) at the University of Calgary spoke to students about affordable housing and encouraging students to submit postcards to the City Council. The postcards will be delivered to the City Council as the public hearing on Residential Grade Oriented (R-CG) housing approaches.

The public hearing will be held at City Hall on Apr. 22 at 9:30 a.m. where councillors will vote to change the base R-CG zoning laws. The SU will be present at the public hearing.

Photo by Daman Singh

In an interview with the Gauntlet, SU Vice President External Mateusz Salmassi describes how students are currently struggling due to low supply in the rental market due to the current R-CG zoning laws.

“Right now, about 63 percent of the city is only zoned for single-family housing,” said Salmassi. “We believe that creating more density and creating more homes throughout the city will help alleviate the student housing crisis.”  

“We only have a vacancy rate of about one per cent so students are competing for less and less rental units and that is driving the price up and so many students are having trouble finding a place to live. On Apr. 22 the City of Calgary has a chance to change that. They will be voting to change the base zoning of the city to R-CG zoning where it would be possible to build things like townhouses [and] row houses,” Salmassi continued.

Salmassi states that increasing density will create a greater supply in the market so that students can have more options when searching for a place to live.

“[Increasing density] will offer students more choice, will decrease the competition between student renters and other renters,” said Salmassi. “When students are looking for a place to live and visit RentFaster they will find just a handful of available rental units for their price range. Changing RCG zoning will allow supply to significantly increase so you can actually have a shot at finding a place to live.”

For students who currently still live with their parents, many are reluctant to move out due to a lack of trust on the rental market. Salmassi believes that the lack of stability in the market has led many students to speak out.

“Students live off campus and students live at home. For so many students who live at home when they think about whether they are going to move out and when you ask them about their level of confidence in the market, they respond by saying that their confidence is extraordinarily low in Calgary’s rental housing market.”

“Students are very nervous and not feeling optimistic at all about the prospects of finding housing. So many students have been filling out the postcards and wanting to make their voices heard to the City Council,” said Salmassi.

Students can visit the SU booth on Apr. 8 and 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at MacEwan Hall. For more information about RCG zoning and the public hearing on Apr. 22, visit the City of Calgary website.

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