Zoning and Licensing is a VERY large area for Calgary City Council, so this section is likely to continue to grow as residents bring up problems they are having dealing with the City of Calgary. Come back frequently!
Many Calgarians (including myself) have decided at one time or another to start their own businesses. Sometimes this is due to following a dream, and sometimes it’s just because work is hard to find. Whatever the reason, it’s currently a lot more difficult and expensive to start a business than it needs to be.
The government talks all the time about how we need to “diversify the economy” but then places enormous barriers in front of people trying to do exactly that. Some businesses really do need extensive zoning, licensing and health/safety regulations, but this doesn’t apply to everyone. There are a lot of people in Calgary that want to just start a little business of their own, whose hopes and dreams are crushed by regulations intended to protect us from back alley clinics and hazardous machinery. These kinds of regulations are not necessary for someone who just wants to do some web design or sell some beads!
I will propose a comprehensive micro-enterprise framework for the city to minimize or remove restrictive, expensive regulations for certain classes of very small business. We should be encouraging these entrepreneurs, not punishing them with red tape.
Driveways and Parking
Calgary was built over the years in stages, with various zoning requirements, Council priorities, and developer approaches. As a result, we have a City where perfectly logical rules in one area do not translate well into others. We need to empower local communities and neighbourhoods to effectively work with the City to make sure that their neighbourhood works for the people in it.
Sometimes well intentioned regulations can go too far, or have unintentional results. It makes sense that people can’t crowd the already tight parking in neighbourhoods with giant RVs all year. But making it illegal to park your own tent trailer in your own driveway in every area of the city? There is a point where the City and the neighbours shouldn’t affect the enjoyment and use of property you own and pay taxes on. We need to review and adjust these rules (in consultation with residents) to come up with some better ideas.
In some areas of Calgary, we have very tight cul-de-sacs where allowing people to park perpendicular to the curb would result in a traffic jam, damage to residents vehicles, and cause needless strife in the community – that’s why it’s not allowed. But there are other, wider cul-de-sacs where perpendicular parking is a much better option than parallel parking because it allows more vehicles to park in the area. The rules for this kind of variation need to be flexible and involve the residents of the community, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach we are using now.
In practice, the City is not enforcing many of these regulations unless there is a complaint. This approach is lazy, unfair, and works to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Why are we teaching people it’s ok to break the rules if they are inconvenient and they think they might get away with it? Are some groups being singled out for strict enforcement while others get a pass? Either it’s a good rule and should be enforced, or a bad rule and needs to be fixed or repealed.
Pets and Animal Companions
There are very good reasons for the banning of raising agricultural animals (“livestock”) within City limits. These reasons became clear more than a hundred years ago and remain valid today. But our definitions of what livestock is has changed. Cats and dogs are no longer the only pets people keep. In addition, many animals are now used as service companions to people with disabilities – a situation not contemplated when anti-livestock regulations were first introduced.
This example, of a woman who is heartbroken over having her pet pot-bellied pig potentially seized by bylaw officials, is clearly not the situation our current bylaws are intended to address.
I will recommend reviewing and updating the bylaw 23M2006 -Responsible Pet Ownership and related bylaws in order to reflect the new reality that someone can have a pet chicken or pot-bellied pig and not intend to slaughter and eat it, while keeping in mind the purpose for the rules: ensuring the animal is appropriately cared for, and that keeping the animal does not pose any environmental concerns or nuisances in the neighbourhood. As long as these criteria are met, I don’t see a reason to ban specific breeds.
The responsibility for the behaviour and safety of a pet companion belongs to the owner, and it’s the owners that need to be held accountable. Complaints arising should be dealt with on a case-by-case or neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis (as appropriate). The licensing process will allow the City to track owners and help protect the welfare of both the animals and people nearby.