The community’s newest housing development is on track to break ground this spring, with the building expected to be ready for occupancy by the summer of 2018.
The affordable housing development on Deer Lane is in the final stages of the environmental assessment review process, and once approved, the project can move to the development permit stage – a requirement for all projects in Banff before any construction can take place. Soil testing will begin this month, and trees individually checked for nests so bird populations are not impacted.
Known as Ti'nu – a word derived from the Nakoda language, which means “come in” – the apartment housing complex will have 132 units made up of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments, and will only be available for rent to qualified applicants.
The project was initiated in December 2015 when Town council approved the purchase of 14 lots from Parks Canada, which sold the lease for Deer Lane, as well as the land lease for some lots on Cave Avenue, to the Town for 85 per cent below the assessed market value. Parks Canada sold the leases on the condition that only high-density, below-market rental apartments could be built and only by the Town. No other entity could develop the land, and the property can never be resold or turned into condominiums.
Developed with extensive community consultation, feedback was gathered at three public open houses and multiple meetings with neighbouring homeowners to improve the project throughout the design phase. The project was reviewed and approved by the Municipal Planning Commission in November. As a result of the input received, actions were taken to improve pedestrian circulation and wayfinding, create a comprehensive landscaping plan for on and offsite improvements, minimize any increase in vehicle traffic to surrounding neighbourhoods, and reduce the potential for neighbourhood noise, among other improvements.
“Neighbours have been very engaged throughout this whole process and we listened to their feedback and made several improvements to this project as a result of their input,” said Sharon Oakley, manager, housing sustainability. “We really do appreciate all the efforts everyone in the community made to get involved and share their ideas, because it meant positive changes for this development.”
Banff’s vacancy rate has been 0 per cent for over three years and situations exist where residents are living in overcrowded or unsafe conditions. Housing is a council priority, and council committed to building 100 units by 2018 to address the need for affordable housing for the community to ensure those working in Banff can live in Banff. The project will be debt financed, and not tax-payer funded.
“There’s still a desperate need for affordable housing in the community,” Oakley said. “The timing couldn’t be better to construct 132 new rental units.”
More information on who is eligible to rent these units and rental application forms will be available in the coming months at banff.ca/housing