Addressing homelessness, precarious work, and Reconciliation: Opportunities for the City of Calgary

VCC’s recommendations for Calgary City Council

16 November 2021

The Enough for All Strategy is working to make poverty history in Calgary. It aims to ensure that Calgary is a strong, supportive and inclusive community, where everyone has sufficient income and assets to thrive, and where all Indigenous people are equal participants in Calgary's future.

City Council met in early November to finalize budget adjustments for 2022, which makes it a good time to remind councillors of a few key areas of opportunity.

Now in our fifth year of evaluating Enough for All (E4A), Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC) has identified the following areas of opportunity for Calgary City Council and Administration. There are several roles that the local government can play to address the goals in the strategy, including exemplary employer, service provider, investor, leader and champion, convener and partner.

E4A "Levers of Change" and areas of opportunity

1.    Reconciliation with Indigenous People

The action items below represent some opportunities for the City of Calgary to “do better” when it comes to improving relations with Indigenous people and other racialized Calgarians.

2.    Housing & Homelessness

In a study of programs funded by the Calgary Homeless Foundation, researchers concluded for every $1.00 spent on housing with program support $1.17 - $2.84 were realized in savings to our health and justice systems. Calgary has a long-standing deficit of affordable housing and below are some short-term opportunities the City of Calgary can act on towards the goal of ensuring every citizen has the opportunity for permanent, affordable housing.

  • Have measures in place to protect Calgary’s existing affordable housing supply to mitigate the loss of affordable housing through private sector development. These actions are important as we work to understand the opportunities and implications of Bill 78- the Alberta Housing Amendment Act and the changing role of the Government of Alberta from owner of affordable housing to regulator and funder.
  • Where available, contribute public land to the community housing sector for new affordable homes. This also includes selling land to nonprofit housing providers at below market value so they can leverage the assets.
  • Continue the partnerships with local non-profits and other stakeholders that led to the creation of the Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan. Revise the plan to include new targets for reducing homelessness and increasing the city’s affordable housing stock.

3.    Employment & Jobs

  • Set the pace for all employers in Calgary by implementing a living wage policy.  This policy would ensure all staff and contractors earn a living wage calculated at $18.60/hr. for 2021.
  • Accelerate social and economic impact through procurement. Social procurement is about leveraging current spending to maximize the positive economic, social and community benefits. Existing government spending can be used to more efficiency and effectively to reach community development goals.

4.    Strong, Supportive and Inclusive communities: Smart growth that balances economic, environmental and social factors.

  • Plan and design the city, communities, and public spaces to deter crime and enhance safety through a greater presence of Community Hubs and other free public spaces.
  • Consider the Social Wellbeing principles from the City’s Social Wellbeing Policy before making decisions on policies. The principles include equitable services, Truth and Reconciliation, supporting culture, and prevention.

For more information, please contact:

Lee Stevens, Policy & Research Specialist
Vibrant Communities Calgary
(403) 351-0611