This Calgary organization wants to inspire others to build affordable, accessible housing in Canada

In its 50th year serving Calgarians with affordable and accessible housing, Accessible Housing Calgary has a goal in mind: to inspire others across Canada do the same.

Accessible Housing Calgary turns 50 this year — with a new gold certification

The outside of a residential building, with a sign out front that reads "Inclusio by Accessible Housing, 1129 23 Ave Nw"
Inclusio is Accessible Housing Calgary's 45-unit supportive living facility. It recently won Rick Hansen Foundation's gold certification for accessibility — the first multi-unit residential building that's done so in Canada. (Karina Zapata/CBC)

In its 50th year serving Calgarians with affordable and accessible housing, Accessible Housing Calgary has a goal in mind: to help others across Canada do the same, as demand rises.

The non-profit organization has a mandate to support people with limited mobility through its outreach and residential programs — including one of Canada's most accessible multi-unit residential building, Inclusio.

Patrick Trudeau has called Inclusio home for three years. He says it's given him more independence and community.

"I feel like myself again. ... It's been the perfect stepping stone for me to move on with my life in this condition of disability," said Trudeau.

The building comes equipped with ramps, wide hallways and doorways, height-adjustable countertops, and other accessible features. It also uses smart technology, where residents can use a phone app to control the doors, blinds, lights and more.

"There's really nothing like this in Calgary, or really, you almost want to think [in] North America. This is really a first of its kind."

A man in a wheelchair smiles at the camera in his room
Patrick Trudeau is a resident of Inclusio. He says it offers the perfect balance of support and independence. (Karina Zapata/CBC)

Inclusio recently won Rick Hansen Foundation's gold certification for accessibility. It's the only multi-residential building in all of Canada that's done so.

Accessible Housing Calgary executive director Krista Davidson-Flint says that medal is a huge win for the organization, but more importantly, it helps raise awareness about the need for accessible spaces for people with limited mobility.

And at a time when Calgary is seeing a decade-low vacancy rate mixed with some of the highest rent increases in the country, Davidson Flint says that need is growing rapidly.

"We know that, statistically speaking, Canadians with disabilities are among the most poor, who have the lowest rate of income in the country. And so for us, providing accessible places that are inclusive and welcoming and feel like home is equally as important as making sure that those supports and facilities are affordable," she said.

For a room at Inclusio, residents are charged 30 per cent of their total income, plus service fees each month.

A man and a woman stand beside each other, smiling at the camera
Accessible Housing Calgary's executive director Krista Davidson Flint and board chair Dave McElhanney. (Karina Zapata/CBC)

Board chair Dave McElhanney says the growth in demand over the last half century is partially also driven by awareness — people are more conscious of the options available to them today. And that's a good thing, he says.

"At some point, we all are likely to face some degree of mobility as we age," said McElhanney.

"We need to understand that if we start dealing with it in our buildings and in our homes as something that just allows everybody to live in the same space, it'll make a huge difference."

In the meantime, Davidson-Flint is looking to the organization's next 50 years with optimism.

She hopes to continue connecting with the people they support to understand how to improve their services and advocate for more accessible spaces in the broader community.

And she hopes that translates beyond Calgary, so people across the country can turn to spaces like theirs and live independent lives with enhanced dignity.

"What's sort of in the forefront for us is really taking what we've learned about creating this incredible space and applying it to community settings as well, and also serving as a model for other communities and centres across the nation who may have an interest and certainly a need to create multi-unit residential facilities like Inclusio."

The organization also offers a renovation program for those who want to improve accessibility within their homes.


Karina is a reporter with CBC Calgary. She previously worked for CBC Toronto and CBC North as a 2021 Joan Donaldson Scholar. Reach her at