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LETTER: Congratulations for Banff, concern for Canmore

LETTER: Banff will receive $4.6 million in federal housing funds, but it appears Canmore must catch up with a better plan, or risk losing out. 


Bow Valley Climate Action Society (BVCA) congratulates the Town of Banff on its success with the federal government's Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF). Town budgets are strained, and $4.6 million of new federal funding is good news. This federal money will fund Banff’s Housing Action Plan. That’s even better news.

In Banff’s Housing Action Plan, the town commits to reform its housing regulations. These reforms will enable more homes to be built, more easily, on already-developed lands.

We are enthusiastic that the HAF program focuses on ending exclusionary zoning. The details can be complicated, but in the end, this should lead to more homes and more efficient, livable forms of development. And we know that these sorts of denser homes and denser communities are more energy efficient. It’s a win for housing affordability, livability, and climate.

But we are also concerned that Canmore was absent from the announcement. In a Jan. 17 Canadian Press article "Housing minister warns against resistance to ending exclusionary zoning" and in his remarks in the Feb. 22 edition of the Outlook "Federal housing fund ‘only for the most ambitious communities in Canada’", federal housing minister Sean Fraser strongly implied Canmore’s Housing Action Plan was not ambitious enough to deserve funding.

The minister is correct. We read through published HAF program requirements and coverage of federal correspondence with Calgary about their application. Then we compared the plans from Banff and Canmore. Banff met the expectations set by Ottawa. Canmore did not.

Canmore must act quickly if it hopes to access several million dollars in federal housing funds.

BVCA calls on the Town of Canmore and Canmore council to urgently amend their Housing Action Plan. Canmore should do what it can to meet federal expectations for funding. And to meet Banff’s example. It would be a shame to allow this major opportunity to slip away.

Edmund Ong,

On behalf of Bow Valley Climate Action Society

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