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Canmore Community Housing strategic plan to focus on increasing land supply

“We’ll always be looking to see if there's land available within the community, including what lands we may own or not own at the moment or what lands may be feasible for future developments that provide the purposes of the vital Homes program. … Hopefully over time, we can work with the development community to provide homes through their developments that meet the needs of our programming.”

CANMORE – The strategic goals for Canmore Community Housing will continue to be the aim of increasing the affordable housing supply and delivering its existing programs.

The organization’s board of directors approved the 2022-25 plan at its annual shareholders meeting on Nov. 3.

“The strategic plan lays out our corporate priorities. They are fluid and they can always change. The strategic plan was established by the board, accepted by the board, approved by the board,” said Dougal Forteath, Canmore Community Housing’s (CCH) managing director.

“It can change depending on the needs of the community, but it is something that's got the blessing of the board and we're moving forward.”

Among the priorities are increasing the supply of land for future development to address the housing need in the community.

Forteath said the organization is in constant search for potential lands to add to its inventory, while also discussing with developers on potential construction that may take place in the coming years.

“We’ll always be looking to see if there's land available within the community, including what lands we may own or not own at the moment or what lands may be feasible for future developments that provide the purposes of the vital Homes program," he said. "Hopefully over time, we can work with the development community to provide homes through their developments that meet the needs of our programming.”

However, any development first has to get the council OK before homes could potentially be added to CCH’s portfolio.

Forteath noted they have had developers reach out to learn more about CCH’s programming merits within the community.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, CCH will engage the Town, Stonecreek Properties and other stakeholders to see if the initiative on the Palliser lands will move forward.

Canmore council approved $1.8 million in 2019 to buy a 2.16-acre parcel of land on the former New Life Christian Centre property, which were transferred to the CCH inventory in 2020. The lands are adjacent to a 14.4 acre site owned by CCH.

In addition to the Palliser lands, CCH will also look at potentially developing on the Three Sisters Mountain Village lands that were transferred to the Town in 2019. The lands are relatively small parcels and it has yet to be determined if they can be built on.

“We own them and the board will look at what the highest and best use of those lands is moving forward,” Forteath said. “If it's deemed that development by ourselves, for either homeownership or rental purposes would be the highest and best use of the land, then we would proceed accordingly. If it's deemed that there's other options specific to the land, we'll follow the direction of the board when the time comes.”

CCH will also transition the 13 Wolf Willow rental units to the homeownership program as part of the loan it received from the Town to initially acquire the properties.

The organization has a total of 265 properties in its inventory, with 123 in the rental program and 142 for homeownership.

In the rental program, CCH has rental units at McArthur Place, the Hector Building, Wolf Willow condos and 1850 Palliser Trail.

There were 10 additional homes added to CCH’s inventory in the Ravens Ridge project in the Peaks of Grassi area earlier this year. Construction is expected to be completed in 2022.

The 49-unit Hawks Bend project was the previous significant addition in 2018 and 2019.

The Bow Valley Regional Housing needs assessment completed in 2019 estimated about 1,400 additional units of non-market housing – such as affordable rental and continuing care units and permanent supportive housing – were needed by 2027 in the Bow Valley.

At the time of the assessment, initiatives had seen about 300 non-market units added.

The assessment estimates by 2027 the Bow Valley will have a permanent population of just under 30,000.

CCH was initially created in 2000 by the Town to help provide affordable permanent and rental housing – now referred to as vital homes – to locals and long-term residents.

The organization runs under its own mandate and at arm’s length from the Town. There are three shares, with two to council and one to the Town of Canmore’s CAO. The shareholders appoint the board of directors, which in turn governs CCH’s administration.

The board of directors has seven public members and two council representatives. A senior Town employee is also appointed by the Town of Canmore, but doesn’t have voting privileges and only attends meetings.

The board also approved the 2022-24 operating budget, which will largely be status quo when it comes to finances in the coming years.

The bulk of the funding will come from the Town of Canmore to the tune of $450,000 each year.

General revenues are estimated to be $524,000 in 2022, $527,570 in 2023 and then $530,570 in 2024. Expenses are budgeted at slightly less with $514,000 in 2022 followed by $518,000 in 2023 and $522,000 in 2024.

The projected cash surplus for 2022 is estimated to be $144,000, but after a $35,000 transfer to the operating revenue the net surplus is projected to be $109,000 by the end of 2022.

Towards the end of 2022, CCH will look to see the impact the new apartments of Rundle House and Vue Canmore have had on the market rental rates and availability.

“We want to give it a window of time to see where it's at in terms of the uptake in the private sector rental market,” Forteath said.