Time to address housing crunch

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Okotoks council is taking its first steps toward fulfilling campaign promises made by most candidates to make the town a more affordable place to live.

Council voted to form an affordable housing committee in the new year, which will explore options for lower-priced homes and rentals in town. It’s been necessary for years now.

As Mayor Bill Robertson stated, the Town has grown significantly in the past decade and the result has been a housing crunch, with high home prices and low rental vacancies.

Affordable housing doesn’t just refer to social housing. It’s also about making starter homes or rental properties more attainable for those who earn lower incomes but don’t qualify for subsidized rent, and who are paying out of their teeth to rent condos or single-family homes in town.

The Town needs to explore more diverse housing options, from cheaper single-family homes to purpose-built rental properties like apartment complexes (not condos), more social housing for those who need the assistance, more multi-family complexes and co-ops, and even tiny home developments in new neighbourhoods.

It’s not only for people looking to get into the market with a cheaper home. Those currently in social housing need somewhere affordable to transition as they move on, whether it’s a home to buy or a place to rent.

Some businesses may also feel the impact, if employees can’t afford to live in Okotoks – or can’t find a place to rent when they need it.

This is the right time to be looking into ways to expand the catalogue of housing options in Okotoks, with annexation complete and future development being planned out. Council needs to work with its new committee and start working toward implementing ideas as soon as possible. It’s time to make Okotoks affordable for everyone.

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