On the surface Okotoks may appear to be affluent, but its hidden housing crisis is slowly bubbling up to the surface.
The Town is taking its first steps to address the issue and bring in more affordable housing units for those who struggle to make ends meet.
In December the Town of Okotoks purchased three acres of land in the D’Arcy neighbourhood for Westwinds Communities to develop a 60-unit housing project - of which 15 will be market rate rentals and 45 will be subsidized for those looking for affordable housing.
The cost of the land was $2.6 million and some have scoffed at the price tag. Realistically, the land purchased is in an area of Town currently being developed with services and utilities. Not to mention the fact Anthem United still wanted to make a profit on the land, which would have been used to build single detached homes and brought in a tidy sum for the company.
Was the price a little high? Maybe.
But Okotoks’ rental rates have hit a peak point out of reach for many working families, and mortgage rules make it difficult for the same people to save up for a down payment on a home.
While the land price may seem unreasonable to some, it’s important to note Westwinds will pay back 100 per cent of the market rate rental portion, and 50 per cent of the cost for the subsidized rental portion of the land.
This brings the Town’s financial commitment down significantly. Investing in the community with new options for affordable housing is the right move. People who work in town need a place to live, a place to feel safe and secure without having to decide between rent or food.
The cost may seem high to those who already own a home, but to someone struggling it’s a ray of hope.
And that’s invaluable.