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Town of Banff to borrow $11.3 million for construction of new affordable housing

The development is not taxpayer funded, but rather based on a cost-recovery model whereby the $11.3 million will be paid back through the sale of the units when built

BANFF – Banff’s local politicians have approved a bylaw to allow the municipality to borrow $11.3 million for an affordable housing development on Banff Avenue.

The short-term loan, including $400,000 in 2020 and $10.95 million in 2021, is needed for construction of the 33 price-restricted, for-purchase apartment units at 338-342 Banff Ave.

Town of Banff officials say this project won’t be taxpayer funded, noting the development is based on a cost-recovery model, meaning the loan will be paid back through the sale of the units when built.

“I am just so delighted to see this project take another step forward,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen at a council meeting on Monday (Oct. 26). “I think it’s very, very good for our community.”

With council’s approval of the borrowing bylaw, administration will submit an application immediately to Alberta Capital Finance Authority (ACFA) to take advantage of the favourable rates that are currently available. 

Chris Hughes, the Town of Banff’s corporate services director, said the current three-year interest rate is 0.6556 per cent.

“This is a historically low rate,” he said.

On Oct. 13, council gave administration the green light to to issue a letter of intent to Studio North & Lola Architecture to finalize drawings and start the approvals and construction process.

The Banff Avenue project will be the first for-sale apartment-style housing project developed by the Banff Housing Corporation (BHC), and is intended to serve a market segment that administration believes is currently under-served.

Estimated sale prices for a 550-square-foot one-bedroom is about $295,000; a 840-square-foot two-bedroom is $450,000  and 915-square-foot, three-bedroom is $496,000.

Sharon Oakley, the Town of Banff’s housing sustainability manager, said a comprehensive marketing and sales strategy will be developed.

“[It will include] documenting the story behind the build, social media ads, an interactive website, two-dimensional floor plan models and rendered virtual tours of each dwelling,” Oakley said.

Potential buyers will be asked to commit to the purchase of a unit before the completion of the build and occupancy, which Oakley said is typically six to eight months prior to completion. 

“Historic sales for similar projects within the Banff Housing Corporation portfolio indicated all units were sold within three months of release,” she said.

Buyers will be required to meet a list of qualifications, including registering with the BHC’s Banff Avenue development sale list, and paying $250 application – to be applied to the purchase price if successful or refunded in unsuccessful.

They must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or have a valid Canadian work permit – and must meet Banff National Park eligible residency criteria

The home must also be the tenant’s primary residence.

“No sub-leasing is allowed,” Oakley said.

Potential buyers must meet one of the following circumstances: working or contracted to work a minimum average of 30 hours per week in Banff for a licensed business; or be self-employed working in Banff with a valid Town of Banff licence a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Also eligible are individuals currently living in Banff who are retired or in receipt of disability benefits who have had three consecutive years of Banff employment history working an average of 30 hours per week or five consecutive years of Banff residence.

“[You] must have worked in Banff six consecutive months prior to application date,” Oakley said.


About the Author: Cathy Ellis

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