One of the big topics of conversation here in Calgary since we have been visiting has been the cost of housing. Since we were here last in 2003 house prices have easily doubled, they have increased 46% in 2006 alone! The median house price in Calgary is about $450,000, and the median condo price in Calgary is over $310,000.
This is proving to be a huge challenge for a lot of people in the city. Many service professions, like teachers and social workers, are finding the increased cost of living to be extremely challenging. My sister, who has a university degree in social work and is currently working at a group home, has found that she can not afford to purchase a house, or even a condo in Calgary on her salary.
This situation is not only evident for those wishing to purchase a home, but it’s also the case for people wanting to rent. Calgary has a unique situation now where people in lower paying jobs are being forced to live in their cars on in shelters.
So what are some solutions being presented?
1. Increase the availability of basement or above garage suites
- This would increase the availability of low cost housing at a minimum cost, with fairly minimum effort, and relatively quickly.
- It would legalize the estimated 30,000 to 80,000 illegal suites already in Calgary.
- It would put an increased burden on existing infrastructure in neighbourhoods. Communities that had their infrastructure designed for a certain density would have that density increased, without a change to that infrastructure. In a city where 8 in 10 residence own vehicles this could prove to be a huge challenge.
- Although presented to council at a recent meeting this effort was not accepted for existing communities.
- The option is being looked at for new communities.
- Read more about this at CBC News: Proposed Rules for basement suites controversial
2. Require affordable housing to be planned into new communities
- Like the The Crestwood Affordable Housing Development in South East Calgary.
- This can also include zoning new developments and building the infrastructure to support a higher density of people. The new McKenzie Towne Community in South East Calgary is zoned to allow basement and garage suites.
3. What other options can you see to address the affordable housing crisis now facing Calgary and many other of our large cities? Please put your ideas in the comments below: