Danielle Smith rejects Calgary mayor's dismissal of home ownership

‘We’re starting to see a segment of the population reject this idea of owning a home, and they’re moving towards rental because it gives them more freedom,’ said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

Danielle Smith rejects Calgary mayor's dismissal of home ownership
The Canadian Press / Jeff McIntosh
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The Premier of Alberta is not thrilled with Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek after commenting that less home ownership is somehow a liberating experience.

On Thursday, Gondek claimed owning a home was a regressive idea, whose proponents are “stuck in the 40s, 50s and 60s.”

“As municipalities, we haven’t kept pace with that change. We’re still stuck in the 40s, 50s and 60s,” she said.

Yet, Gondek’s disclosure statement reveals ownership of two properties in Calgary — one in Panorama Hills and another downtown in East Village. 

Gondek made the comments during a discussion with the development company RNDSQR. 

Rebel News asked for the premier’s reaction to the mayor’s remarks and she did not hold back.

“Do you consider these remarks out of touch, given that many young Canadians not only struggle with the affordability crisis, but have lost hope of ever owning a home?” the publication asked Smith. She replied: “Well, I think it's worse than that.”

“I've seen a TikTok trend of young people talking about how they might even leave the country because they can't see a future where they might be homeowners and that's devastating,” clarified the premier.

According to Statistics Canada data, seven in ten Albertans (70.9%) owned a home, with the population of Calgary (70.5%) falling just shy of the provincial average.

“Most people look at attainable homeownership as the first peg in their financial plan to start building wealth,” claimed Smith. “And that's why my Minister of Seniors Community and Social Services, Jason Nixon is focused on both sides — not only in affordable housing, but also an attainable housing strategy.”

Nixon, who maintains his support to address the housing crisis, found Gondek’s dismissal of home ownership “disappointing” and “frankly, alarming,” according to an emailed statement received by Rebel.

“The reality is not that our younger generations view renting as ‘liberating’ and are ‘rejecting’ the idea of home ownership. The reality is that they do not have a choice,” he said.

“Across our country, people are being priced out of the market and the possibility of owning a home slips further out of their reach by the day.”

On housing affordability, a December analysis by RBC pegged housing affordability had reached its “worst-ever” levels ever in Canada’s major housing market. Less than half (44.5%) of Canadian households can afford to purchase a condo at current prices. 

For single-family homes, only the top 25% of earners have sufficient income to own a home.

Many Canadians under the age of 35, according to Five-Year Trends for Canada, are unlikely to ever afford a place to live, noting that conditions “will probably deteriorate further in the next five years.”

“At the moment how much do you worry about the following topics?” asked the Privy Council study. Among the responses, 36% expressed worry about not being "financially better off than my parents.” The authors did not comment on the findings.

Despite the short-term digression, Gondek viewed things differently.

“We’re starting to see a segment of the population reject this idea of owning a home, and they’re moving towards rental because it gives them more freedom,” she said. 

“They can travel to different places, they can try out different communities, their job may take them from place to place and so people have become much more liberated around what housing looks like, and what the tenure of housing looks like,” she added.

On the other hand, Smith worried the consequences could produce an untimely brain drain for the province. 

Nixon echoed those concerns but maintained his support for the Alberta Advantage and the prospects of owning a home in the province.

“The Alberta advantage is that the dream of homeownership is alive and well in our province,” he said. “We are one of the few places left in Canada in which people can afford homes.” 

Since March 2023, housing construction in Alberta's urban centers with populations over 10,000 has surged. March 2024 saw 3,122 housing starts, a 55.4% increase from the previous year. Province-wide, single- and semi-detached houses, row houses, and apartments have risen by at least 30.1%.

Nixon maintains his ministry is “laser-focused” on building more affordable, attainable homes to “meet the evolving needs of our communities.”

Smith said the Government of Alberta is focusing its efforts on clearing regulatory hurdles that delay construction in certain municipalities.

“Our government will make sure that Alberta remains the best province to live, work, and raise a family, and the first step towards that is making sure that the dream of homeownership remains achievable for generations to come,” added Nixon.

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