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Banff’s Ti’nu nets $500k profit after first year

BANFF ­­ – The Town of Banff’s first affordable rental housing development is expected to make a $450,000 to $500,000 annual operating profit.
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An artist’s rendering of the Ti’nu rental housing project in Banff.
An artist’s rendering of the Ti’nu rental housing project in Banff.

BANFF ­­ – The Town of Banff’s first affordable rental housing development is expected to make a $450,000 to $500,000 annual operating profit.

Town of Banff officials say the projected surplus for Ti’nu – which is not subsidized by local taxpayers – was made possible through a $12 million provincial government contribution to the $23.8 million development.

Alison Gerrits, the Town of Banff’s community services director, said an agreement with the provincial government stipulates the creation of a housing reserve for any surplus, which must be earmarked for future affordable housing projects.

“Ultimately, this has created a sustainable funding source for future affordable housing projects down the road in Banff,” she said, noting options for future affordable housing projects will be presented to council in July.

Had the $12 million not come through from the province, Gerrits said the housing team still would have met a council requirement to create the Ti’nu development without local tax dollars, but rents would have been substantially higher.

“The provincial contribution of $12 million allowed us to lower the rents so that our units at Ti’nu are 20 to 30 per cent below local market rates,” she said. “Without that, it would have been closer to five per cent below market.”

In 2014, Banff’s community housing strategy highlighted a shortfall of available and affordable rental housing as one of the tourist town’s most pressing issues. From 2013-17, the rental vacancy rate in Banff was zero.

The following year, the Town of Banff acquired 14 parcels of land from Parks Canada to build perpetually affordable rental units. The release of the lots for Ti’nu cost $550,000, while land on Cave Avenue was a nominal $1 fee.

Parks Canada’s land discount was contingent on affordable rental housing projects being built.

Mayor Karen Sorensen said she believes Ti’nu is a game-changer, noting that Parks Canada’s land deal also helped keep the project costs down.

“Council took a lot of heat on this project, as did administration, but I’m so incredibly proud of what’s been accomplished here. It’s a great success and is fully occupied with a waitlist,” she said.

“I know we’re waiting for final numbers, but I feel confident this project has impacted our zero per cent rental vacancy rate. All this speaks to this council’s and previous council’s mandate to really take our housing crisis and deal with it head on.”

In other Ti’nu news, BHC is launching a lending program for items such as kitchen supplies, including a mix master and blender for example. Irons and ironing boards will also be available for sign out.

In addition, BHC will have summer sporting equipment like paddle boards and kayaks to be signed out by Ti’nu residents for free or at a nominal cost.

The housing corporation has also partnered with Banff Food Rescue for a pilot pop-up food rescue over the summer.

“There has really been a team effort in developing what has become a vibrant and connected community at Ti’nu,” Gerrits said.