Councillor Survey Question 6

Everyone says they support affordable housing, but what does that term mean for you? Do you think the City should be subsidizing housing for lower-income residents? Or focused on keeping the cost of all housing from getting out of control? Or perhaps some combination of the two? If so, how?

Janise Somer:

We need to focus on getting those without homes into housing. Rent subsidies for seniors and lower-income residents are necessary as well.


Brenda Campbell:

I don't feel the City should be subsidizing lower-income residents but since shelter is ultimately a health requirement/basic need, I think higher levels of government should sponsor building of affordable housing developments and subsidize. The City can address tax rates and if possible, focus on keeping the cost of all housing from getting out of control. Market values are often determined by interest rates and other factors beyond the City's control. I guess the City could lower land/lot costs as they've definitely skyrocketed and consider other incentives to make prices more affordable at that level.


Bruce Buruma:

Housing is a provincial responsibility that is how subsidized housing should be addressed. The City does have land use, zoning and tax strategies that should be mindful and supportive of affordable housing. The housing industry also has opportunities in this area that should be promoted.


Kraymer Barnstable:

I would like to see a combination of both. I do not have a direct response or proposed solution on how we can make that happen, but I would love to sit down and listen to proposals on how best to move forward.


Victor Doerksen:

Employment opportunities and a healthy economy are the best plan for people to find their own solutions.


Dianne Wyntjes:

Both Federal and Provincial governments resource housing needs in Red Deer. In 2019, through community round tables and discussions, the City now has the Community Housing & Homelessness Integrated Plan (CHHIP). It’s recognized, as in many growing urban cities, there is not adequate housing stock in Red Deer, that responds to the diversity of housing needs, e.g. housing for those with physical or mental disabilities, resources to keep people housed, youth housing, family housing or senior housing. Affordable housing means, to me, that one is able to access housing and that “housing costs less than 30% of a household’s before tax income”, which is the definition of affordable housing in Canada. The Province has committed $7 million for an integrated Shelter for Red Deer. While requests have been made to the Province, with inflation, if they would add to that commitment, the response has been no. I anticipate if the City and the community want to “plus” any plans for the future integrated Shelter that meets current and future needs, the next Council will be debating whether the City will add to the $7 million. The City of Red Deer’s Community Housing and Advisory Board (CHAB), has in the past years, reviewed community agency RFP’s - Requests for Proposals - to access Federal and Provincial housing dollars allocated to Red Deer. In August of 2021, Council passed a motion to look to disband the CHAB and replace it with a new community collaborative committee that comes out of the CHHIP. This matter will come to the next Council for the governance model for housing and homelessness in Red Deer. It is hoped it will also bring more community collaboration and sub-committees such as an Indigenous work group and Council decision making in emergency situations. So responding to your questions, these will be conversations for the next community committee who will focus on the resources and services related to homelessness and housing needs in Red Deer. I encourage Common Sense Red Deer to engage in future community conversations when they occur. Regarding the question about costs of all housing out of control, this is a significant concern faced by all Albertans and Canadians as we see rising resale costs and new buildings costs and higher lumber prices. Housing and affordable housing is an example of the importance of all three orders of government - federal, provincial and municipal - working together for affordability. And ensuring there is a provincial and local/municipal environment that creates jobs and opportunities for one’s affordability. Municipalities have roles through local taxation, zoning, secondary suites bylaws, working with community agencies and the development committee, development fees and charges, adequate and services land supply, economic development and investment to bring jobs and services, and ease of doing business with City Hall. The affordable housing issues are a priority and will require the continued attention and focus; by Council leadership and working together as community. I also recognize that inadequate housing or unsanitary or rundown housing conditions contribute to the health of the community - mental health, physical health, social wellbeing and overall affects Red Deer’s community well being, as we are seeing with the temporary shelter spaces in downtown Red Deer and the conversations these past few years.


Chad Krahn:

One of the current challenges with affordable housing in Red Deer is the lack of alignment between all of the housing management bodies that are provincially funded but regulated by the city. There is currently resistance to the City aligning the housing management bodies from one of the large players. If greater alignment was achieved, it would allow the funding to go further and for the system to better serve those who are in need of affordable housing. Our housing supply would also be significantly strengthened if regulations were re-exampled for secondary suites in general, and carriage homes in particular.


Ryan Laloge:

The problem is clearly supply to the need, subsidies are only needed (and they take away from other services) when the costs and terms of development climb. Affordable housing needs to be affordable housing on affordable lots.


Vesna Higham:

No, the City should not be subsidizing low-income housing, period. That is the jurisdiction of the Province, with housing support dollars from the Feds – and over the past term, there have been plenty of federal housing dollars trickling down to our community. We need to focus on keeping the cost of all housing reasonable and affordable by doing what’s in our municipal control: keep debt reasonable (so less $ spent on interest), provide good core services at a reasonable cost, and making our community attractive to ongoing economic development.


Cindy Jefferies:

Some communities, like Medicine Hat, have invested in affordable housing stock in an effort to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness. I understand they have been quite successful. In my mind, this is a better approach from an economical perspective. Currently, in Red Deer, we pay police, EMS, emergency room staff, city bylaw officers, city peace officers, mental health workers, numerous non-profit organizations, outreach workers, and parks employees to help people experiencing homelessness. Many studies indicate this is a very expensive approach. I think we would be better to put some municipal money with federal and provincial money into affordable housing.

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