Ti’nu housing project on budget

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The Ti’nu housing development is quickly coming along and, according to the Town of Banff, the project is on time and on budget.

The $23.8 million dollar project is expected to be completed this spring with an anticipated move in date of July 1, according to Sharon Oakley, the town’s housing sustainability manager.

“We are on budget and on time,” said Oakley, before joining Lori Sigurdson, the minister of seniors and housing, on a tour of the building, Feb. 23.

This is the Banff Housing Corporation’s first purpose-built rental apartment complex, and also the first time in the corporation’s history that financial criteria is being used in order to qualify for one of 132 units at Ti’nu.

According to Oakley, the town received 130 to 140 applications when applications opened in December, however, not all of the applicants qualified and some of the units are still available.

“The people that have been approved to date, it’s a really great mix of every aspect of our community. We have seniors, we have families, we have young adults, we have couples, we have young professionals, we have everybody coming in,” said Oakley, adding the three accessible units have already been spoken for.

To qualify for a unit, residents must meet a range of conditions, including both minimum and maximum income thresholds for the type of unit they are applying for, prove they have a need to reside in Banff and provide a notice of assessment, among other criterion.

The minimum and maximum income threshold for a studio apartment are $29,475 and $49,642 respectively; $38,437 and $64,736 for a one-bedroom and $57,637 and $97,073 for a two-bedroom.

Rental rates for the new development located on Coyote Lane include $786 for a studio apartment, $1,025 for a one-bedroom and $1,537 for a two-bedroom unit. Residents will not be allowed to spend more than 32 per cent of their gross household income on rent.

“This is below market affordable housing, so it allows people to pay an appropriate amount of their income toward their rent,” said Oakley, explaining the rent price includes utilities.

“When you think that it’s $780 for a studio and that includes everything and a one bedroom is just over $1,000, that’s pretty great, so we’re seeing a glimmer of hope, I think, in that people can stay here and manage to afford to live here.”

On average, the rates are about 18 per cent below market value based on data from the Bow Valley Job Resource Centre and the Alberta Apartment Vacancy and Rental Cost Survey.

Two residents can live in the studio and one-bedroom apartments. Up to three non-related adults are permitted in two-bedroom units; however, if there are four people, they must all be immediate family members.

Following the tour, Sigurdson said the project will help ease Banff’s tight rental market, which has had a zero per cent vacancy rate for years.

“It’s very exciting to have more affordable housing in Banff,” said Sigurdson. “We know that in this area we have tourists coming from all over world and we want to make sure we welcome them and serve them and that the people who are serving them live in really good quality, affordable housing.”

MLA Cam Westhead and Mayor Karen Sorensen echoed her comments.

“It looks like a great place for families,” said Westhead. “Everybody has their own individual space, but it’s also a little community, so people will have a place to gather and meet their neighbours and talk to friends and family.”

Sorensen thanked her counterparts for taking the time to visit the new project ahead of its completion and thanked the province for its financial support.

Last year, the provincial government kicked in $11.9 million toward the $23.8 million development, while Parks Canada sold the lease for 14 lots on Coyote Lane and Cave Avenue for $550,000 – 85 per cent below the market assessment value of $6.7 million.

The Cave Avenue project is still in the early stages, according to both Oakley and Sorensen.

“We have approved the borrowing bylaw in terms of moving forward on that,” said Sorensen.

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Rocky Mountain Outlook