Housing Affordability: Who’s Making the Grade and Who’s Missing the Mark?

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In our last two annual surveys, Calgary’s Future supporters ranked the housing crisis as their top issue of concern. But is Calgary City Council taking the housing crisis as seriously as Calgarians are?

Some City Councillors are consistent in their approach to the housing crisis, while others are remarkably inconsistent. Read on to find out who’s making the grade and who’s missing the mark.


According to the City of Calgary’s 2018 Housing Needs Assessment Report, nearly one in five households are in need of affordable housing. That’s over 80,000 Calgary households. And for single-income families, the situation is particularly precarious. 

Unfortunately, supply isn’t keeping up with demand. Each year in Calgary, 2,000 more renters are in need while only 300 new units are built annually. Not only that, but currently only 3% of households in Calgary are supported by affordable housing, as compared to 6% of households nationwide. 

Calgary is playing catch up at a critical time. Fortunately, City Council has made recent efforts to address the housing crisis. In September 2023, Calgary City Council passed a list of 98 recommended actions brought forward by the Housing and Affordability Task Force (HATF). As of May 2024, the City has started work on 64 of those recommendations.

Recently, two public hearings took place regarding the implementation of the HATF recommendations. Both had an unprecedented public turnout. Most recently, the public hearing on inclusive RCG zoning lasted more than three weeks with an astounding 736 public speakers signed up to present to council. 

R-CG zoning was one of the recommendations made by the HATF, and many other HATF recommendations depend on implementing inclusive RCG zoning across the city. That’s why many advocates gave a sigh of relief when a majority of Councillors integrated what they heard from the public and voted in favour of R-CG zoning. 

We rely on our leaders to integrate feedback from community members. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re obligated to respond to the loudest and angriest voices. It means that Councillors are responsible for implementing solutions and following through on commitments that will maximize long-term benefits for Calgarians. 

While it’s encouraging that a majority of Councillors integrated what they heard and voted in the best interests of all Calgarians, there were definitely a few sticks in the mud. 

To keep track of how our elected leaders vote, we put together a timeline that details some key moments along City Council’s initial path to fix Calgary’s housing crisis. 


Lead Up to the Public Hearing on R-CG Zoning


To provide context for our City Councillor report card, here is a timeline that highlights important moments in City Council’s ongoing work to address Calgary’s housing crisis. 



  • June 7th 2022


      •  Council voted to form the HATF. Councillors Walcott, Penner, Carra, Spencer, Mian, Pootmans, and Mayor Gondek all voted in favour of forming the HATF. Councillors Chabot and Mclean are the only members of Council to vote against forming a special task force to address housing affordability. The vote passes and the expert task force is formed. 


  • June 6th 2023 


      • The HATF presented 98 recommendations for addressing Calgary’s housing crisis. Councillors Spencer, Penner, Carra, Walcott, Dhaliwal, Mian, and Mayor Gondek voted in favour of accepting the report and the recommendations, while councillors Sharp, Wyness, Chu, Pootmans, Wong, Chabot, Mclean, and Demong voted against accepting affordable housing recommendations. The initial result of this vote is that the HATF recommendations were rejected. 


  • June 7th 2023 


      • In response to Council’s vote against accepting the HATF recommendations, a historic public outcry from all quarters caused Calgary City Council to reconsider their decision. City Council voted again, and this time Councillors Walcott, Penner, Carra, Dhaliwal, Spencer, Mian, Postman and Mayor Gondek all voted in favour of accepting the recommendations. Meanwhile, five Councillors voted against accepting the HATF report: Chu, Chabot, Mclean, Wyness, and Demong. With a majority of Councillors having now voted to accept the HATF report, a public hearing on the implementation of the recommendations was scheduled for September of 2023.


  • September 14 - 16th 2023 


      • The HATF public hearing drew record participation and City Council voted to pass the recommendations. Councillors Walcott, Penner, Carra, Dhaliwal, Spencer, Mian, Pootmnas, Wyness, Sharp, Demong, and Mayor Gondek all vote in favour, while Councillors Chu, Mclean, and Demong are the only councillors to vote against passing the recommendations. Council’s decision is largely impacted by compelling arguments from community members showing up to support the recommendations in person (163 speakers). With R-CG standing out as the most contentious recommendation, this public hearing set the stage for the contentious public hearing on R-CG zoning held in April 2024.


  • November 22nd 2023


      • City Council had an opportunity to follow through on their commitments to address housing affordability by including the HATF’s recommended expenses in the 2024 budget. Councillors Walcott, Penner, Carra, Dhaliwal, Spencer, Mian, Pootmans, Demong, and Mayor Gondek all voted in favour of the budget adjustment. The only Councillors to vote against the budget are Sharp, Wyness, Chu, Wong, Chabot, and Mclean. The budget was passed with more than $100 million dollars committed to implementing the HATF recommendations.


  • March 13th 2024 


      • Councillors Mclean, Sharp, Demong, Chu, and Chabot attempt to delay R-CG zoning changes by voting to turn the issue into a plebiscite that would coincide with the 2025 municipal election. Councillors Mian, Dhaliwal, Pootmans, Walcott, Carra, Penner, Spencer and Mayor Gondek voted against this delay, and the public hearing for R-CG zoning in April moves forward as initially planned.


  • April 22nd - May 14th 2024


    • In a historic public hearing, Calgary City Council listens to the interests and concerns of a record number of Calgarians. Ultimately, City Council voted to pass the R-CG zoning bylaw with amendments stemming from the feedback provided by community members. By voting in favour of R-CG zoning, Councillors Walcott, Mian, Penner, Spencer, Carra, Dhaliwal, Pootmans, Wyness, and Mayor Gondek all followed through on their commitments to housing affordability and the 98 actions that Council approved for action in September of 2023. Councillors Demong, Mclean, Chabot, Wong, Chu, and Sharp attempt to derail the City’s housing strategy by voting against R-CG zoning.  


So Who Passed and Who Failed?


Looking at the timeline and background information listed above, clear patterns emerge in terms of which Councillors are voting in favour of solutions to the housing crisis and which Councillors are voting against those initiatives. So how do our City Councillors actually stack up in terms of supporting housing affordability in Calgary?


Passing Grades:

Courtney Walcott (Ward 8) Evan Spencer (Ward 12)
Kourtney Penner (Ward 11) Jasmine Mian (Ward 3)
Gian-Carlo Carra (Ward 9) Richard Pootmans (Ward 6)
Raj Dhaliwal (Ward 5) Jennifer Wyness (Ward 2)
Mayor Jyoti Gondek  


These Councillors consistently vote to support housing affordability. They show admirable leadership in the face of an increasingly partisan and polarized issue.

This list of Councillors stood their ground and managed not to be bullied or swayed by vitriolic and sometimes personal attacks made by R-CG zoning opponents. Instead, these Councillors listened to community members and integrated public feedback. They asked insightful questions and recognized that it was their job to make decisions for the benefit of all Calgarians, not just those who attended the hearing on R-CG zoning.


"This is the removal of a significant barrier…" – Councillor Evan Spencer.


“...by listening to over 700 Calgarians, we made the improvements they needed to see in the development permit process, which actually drives what gets built next door across the street from them." – Mayor Gondek


“To kick this to a plebiscite in the next election benefits those who want to run on an opposition to changing our communities. That is a political choice, that is not a choice that helps Calgarians, that is not a choice that builds housing, that is not a choice that helps our affordability, that is not a choice that builds our competitive edge — that is a choice that helps the selfish few.” – Councillor Courtney Walcott


Failing Grades:



Sonya Sharp (Ward 1)

Peter Demong (Ward 14)

Terry Wong (Ward 7)

Andre Chabot (Ward 10)

These Councillors were inconsistent in their approach to the housing crisis. At times they actively tried to avoid their responsibilities as elected leaders by delaying action on Calgary’s housing affordability crisis. Over the past year, they voted inconsistently and often with contradictory justifications for their stances. They were cowed by the loudest voices and they ignored their previous commitments to honor the HATF’s recommendations. 


“Some city councillors, who’d harboured profound doubts over the plan’s most contentious element — a provision that will extend R-CG zoning to allow a more diverse mix of housing throughout an often solely single detached-home city, joined proponents in approving it.” – Calgary Herald (referring to City Council’s September 2023 HATF vote)


Dishonorable Mention


Sean Chu (Ward 4)

Dan Mclean (Ward 13)

Dan Mclean and Sean Chu stand out for their consistent lack of interest in working to address Calgary’s housing crisis. Councillors Mclean and Chu both voted against these initiatives to improve housing affordability every single time they had the opportunity to do so. They did not support the HATF’s recommendations or inclusive R-CG zoning. They are making no effort to contribute positively to the conversation.

Despite voting largely in favour of the majority of case by case R-CG zoning changes, Mclean and Chu preferred to bog down the process for building more housing with red tape.


Instead of listening to Calgarians and finding the best path forward for Calgarians, Councillor McLean promoted “a lot of conspiracy theories about who’s whipping votes and whatnot”.


The Way Forward


Looking at the way City Councillors voted over the past year, it’s clear who’s working for constructive solutions to Calgary’s housing crisis and who’s holding our city back from the progress we’re desperately trying to achieve. But this is still just the beginning–we’ll be watching closely to see how Calgary City Council works to implement the rest of the HATF recommendations and who’s willing to go above and beyond. 

Leading up to the next municipal election in 2025, we’ll continue to track which Councillors advocate for pragmatic solutions and which Councillors drag us through a quagmire of delay and division. 

Want to thank the Councillors who voted to support R-CG zoning changes? Email them now.

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