Airdrie City council approved a request on May 3 brought forward by Airdrie Housing Limited (AHL) for a project aimed at turning a local Super 8 Motel into affordable housing units for residents.
“This is excellent planning and great value to the taxpayer,” said Coun. Al Jones. “I am looking forward to aiding 31 more families.”
According to the agenda report for the May 3 council meeting, AHL approached council with several requests after the opportunity arose to purchase land to provide local affordable housing units. The lands currently operating as the HomeStay Express are in receivership and have been presented to AHL as an opportunity to convert the existing structure to affordable housing units.
“Conditions of the purchase include the successful re-zoning of the site as well as approval of financing,” the report stated. “AHL is requesting financing assistance from the City of Airdrie in the form of bridge financing to complete the sale and ultimately long-term financing through the City’s ability to draw on debenture funds.”
Additionally, AHL requested council's approval to redirect provincial Municipal Block Funding grant dollars from a proposed project on Edmonton Trail to the HomeStay Project.
The project, according to figures in the agenda report, will cost $5 million. Part of AHL’s request included bridge funding and debenture financing from the City, totalling $3,359,840.
In AHL’s request, it said the organization currently owns 44 units of housing, including a 32-unit apartment building. Rents for affordable housing units must be set at a minimum of 10 per cent below market rental value, but most are priced at 20 to 30 per cent below market rent.
“Based on the incredible growth of our community and a 2017 Airdrie Housing Needs Assessment, we know that there is considerable need in our community,” the report stated, “and this site provides an opportunity to expedite the building process by re-purposing an existing structure.”
The re-purposed building would bring the City’s affordable housing stock from 44 to 75 units, with additional 31 units representing a 70 per cent increase in available affordable housing stock. According to AHL, this would directly address a gap in housing options identified as a priority in the City's 2017 Housing Needs Assessment.
“For persons with disabilities/mobility issues, one of the suites is already barrier free and the building has wide hallways and doorways, as well as an elevator for access to the upper levels,” the request stated.
After the presentation, Mayor Peter Brown said the project would get the City closer to where it needs to be in terms of its affordable housing inventory.
“It’s not everything we want, but it’s exciting,” he said. “From my perspective, I am really looking forward to supporting this initiative.”