Banff receives $4.6M from feds to aid housing crisis

It’s all smiles among town officials in Banff, after the town learned it was one of few to receive money from the federal government to address its affordable housing crisis Monday.

As part of this agreement, Banff with receive more than $4.6 million, which the town will use to explore innovative housing solutions.

“We are so grateful and so thrilled to be recognized as having ambitious plans to try and stimulate new housing here in Banff,” said Mayor Corrie DiManno.

She explains that housing is a huge problem in the tourist-driven town.

“We are effectively at zero percent rental vacancy in town, and we know that we have a shortfall of anywhere between 700 to 1,000 homes,” DiManno said. “Without a doubt, unavailable and unaffordable housing is the number one issue for our community.

“We want to ensue that businesses are either building the housing, or if they’re not, they’re going to help pay for future housing projects that will be municipal led.”

Dimanno adds the funding will allow the town to reduce it’s parking requirements.

Recently, town council approved a hike in visitor parking fees in the off-season to $5 per hour, and peak season to $6 dollars per hour, which will take effect on May 1. This is in a bid to encourage users to give biking, bussing, and public transit a try on their next visit to the resort town.

“We can continue to move the needle on getting folks out of their cars and onto sustainable transportation like transit, on bike, by foot, then we can make more space available for housing,” DiManno said.

Banff is one of six Alberta communities to sign the housing deal, as did Sylvan Lake, Bow Island, Westlock, Smoky Lake, and Duchess.

In a statement, federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser says over the next three years, the $13.8 million Housing Accelerator fund will lead to the construction of over 400 homes, and 3,100 homes within the next decade.

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