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Black Diamond backs affordable housing study

The Town of Black Diamond will pitch in for a study on affordable housing needs in the region.
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Black Diamond council voted to help finance a study on affordable housing needs in the region. (Brent Calver/Western Wheel File)

The Town of Black Diamond will pitch in for a study on affordable housing needs in the region.

A request by Westwinds Communities presented by Town administration at council's Jan. 20 meeting was made for funding to conduct a joint study between Westwinds Communities and Habitat for Humanity’s Southern Alberta Foothills chapter.

The study would make Westwinds Communities eligible for funding through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation if necessary, and provide a framework for planning of future affordable housing in the Foothills region.

At a cost of $50,000-60,000 to conduct the study, the organization requested the Town of Black Diamond contribute $7,000. Westwinds also applied to the Town of Turner Valley for the same amount, as well as High River for $14,000 and Longview for $3,500.

The motion to add the $7,000 to the budget passed 4-3.

“With the growth that we have of affordable housing in the area, I think it would definitely be a very good project to move forward, especially since they are going with Habitat for Humanity,” said Coun. Sharon Hart, who represents Black Diamond on the board of directors for Westwinds.

Lauren Ingalls, executive director for Westwinds Communities, said the project will help identify gaps in their services and for strategizing for future projects.

“When trying to project demand, and what communities we should be targeting for future growth, there are gaps,” she said.

The challenge to the organization, she said, is a lack of documented needs beyond word of mouth or waiting lists, which are not sufficient to get grant funding from the federal government.

The study will be available for other groups to utilize.

“Not only can Westwinds use it, but the municipalities can use it for themselves and also for other organizations that might be looking at developing affordable housing,” Ingalls said.

Mayor Ruth Goodwin said she sees the importance of the study to inform the Towns what’s needed.

“It will give us an idea of what we have existing and how much more we need as we move forward," she said.




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Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and OkotoksToday.ca
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