Six Alberta communities sign housing deals with federal government

The federal government says it has completed housing agreements with six small and rural communities in Alberta.

Banff to receive more than $4.6 million to deal with ongoing affordable housing crisis

The Town of Banff has a limited footprint where development can occur.
Six Alberta communities, including the Town of Banff, have signed housing deals with the federal government. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The federal government says it has completed housing agreements with six small and rural communities in Alberta.

Housing Minister Sean Fraser made the announcement Monday in Banff about the agreements with the mountain town, as well as Sylvan Lake, Bow Island, Westlock, Smoky Lake and the village of Duchess.

"Today, there's an enormous opportunity to get more homes built if we make the investments in small town Canada that will maximize their economic potential," said Fraser. 

"The combined impact of these investments over the next 10 years is expected to see more than 3,100 homes added to the housing supply in this province."

The federal government will grant Alberta $13.8 million to support housing growth in the six small towns and rural communities across the province through its housing accelerator fund. 

The fund offers money in exchange for changes to bylaws and regulations that support more homebuilding.

Banff is set to receive $4.6 million of that total. 

Housing an issue in tourist town

The town of Banff is nestled in the Rockies in Canada's busiest national park. It attracts many of the four million visitors to the park each year, according to its website. Housing for the town's residents, however, has long been an issue.

"Without a doubt, unavailable and unaffordable housing is the number issue for our community," Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno said.

Municipalities were invited to apply for the federal fund with a plan on how they would ramp up construction in their communities.

"Today's announcement is so vital to our community," DiManno said.

"We're effectively at 0 per cent vacancy for rental units and we have a shortfall of 700 to 1,000 units in town as well." 

DiManno said the federal money will act as a catalyst for municipal-led housing projects, as well as fast-track the town's development permit process. She added that the Town of Banff will change land use policies to allow for more density and multi-unit developments in all residential zones, to help address housing pressures.

"The time of being able to build a new single detached home in Banff will soon be over."

Other plans for the popular tourist destination include increasing height limits for residential buildings, and providing grants for homeowners to create secondary suites in their property, according to DiManno. 

With files from Helen Pike