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Task Force seeks to improve housing options

December 3, 2019

The Affordable Housing Task Force has been working to identify gaps in housing for Okotoks’ residents and develop a long-term strategy and implementation plan to make housing more accessible.

“In our research, we’ve learned that Okotoks has a significant housing affordability issue,” said Task Force Chair Shawn Rose. “There is an increasingly widening gap between affordable home ownership or rental, and the people who live in, or want to live in, Okotoks. These include seniors, single parents, local small business owners, and young people under the age of 35.”

Okotoks has adopted Canada Mortgage and Housing’s definition for affordable housing, which is housing that costs less than 30 percent of a household’s gross income.

A housing needs assessment completed by the Town indicates that almost half of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent & utilities, which is nine percent higher than the provincial average. One in five Okotoks’ residents are spending over 50 percent of their income to pay for a place to live.

The Task Force is exploring multiple strategies and tactics that will be needed to create the framework for a community that offers a variety of housing options for all residents at all stages of their lives, including increasing the number of secondary suites, supporting purpose-built rental accommodation, and adjusting the Land Use Bylaw to require more affordable housing options in new developments. The members of the Task Force believe that this comprehensive inclusiveness is critical for the long-term health and viability of any community.

The seven-member Task Force includes subject matter expert representatives from the banking, real estate, local business and non-profit housing sectors. Council approved their first set of recommendations in November, 2018 that included enabling more rental units through secondary or backyard suites, creating a tracking and monitoring system that quantifies the need, supply, and gaps, and securing land opportunities for affordable housing.

“It’s important that we share the stories we’ve heard from members of the community who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Rose. “Providing safe, adequate, and affordable housing is essential in creating an inclusive community.”

The Task Force invites residents to share stories, anonymously if they choose, about their housing challenges to help inform the community about the growing disparity in Okotoks. Send your story and information in confidence Here.

Learn more about the Task Force Members and read about personal stories - Details