In a sign of the times, the City of Red Deer has been asked to switch some larger housing lots to smaller, more affordable lots in the new Evergreen neighbourhood.
The price difference between a home on a smaller R1G lot and a house on a larger, low-density R1 lot can be $20,000-plus, writes Gordon Lau, senior associate with Stantec Consulting to the city.
“The cost difference… should not be downplayed; it could be the difference between a potential home buyer purchasing in Red Deer” or a surrounding community such as Blackfalds or Lacombe, Lau added.
Coun. Ken Johnston and the rest of council unanimously gave initial approval to the change on Monday. The City of Red Deer had been asked to reduce to 314 the 362 larger, low-density lots in Phase 2 of the Evergreen development, north of the new St. Joseph High School in east Red Deer. The same amendment would increase the number of small lot R1G district lots to 155 units from a previous 100.
Johnston said millennials, such as his daughter, are finding themselves “squeezed” as first-time home buyers between higher home costs and new mortgage rules that require more downpayment.
“I look forward to new opportunities in home buying that this could present,” said Johnston — although he intends to wait for input at a March 4 public hearing before considering second and third reading of the bylaw amendment.
Lau wrote: “There is a shortage of R1G home lots, creating a significant gap in housing opportunity and affordability in Red Deer.”
By comparison, he stated there’s a “significant oversupply” of R1 low-density residential lots.
As of the end of October, there were only 18 vacant small R1G lots available in the city, compared to 343 vacant R1 lots. There are also a further 60 R1C vacant lots available that could accommodate low-density residential developments if buyers choose not to build carriage houses on them.
The requested changes to the Evergreen Area Structure Plan would impact the neighbourhood’s density only minimally, said city planning services director Tara Lodewyk.
Council also gave first reading to a modified road reconfiguration that would solve problems that might otherwise result around waste pickup, and adjustments to the municipal reserve and trails.
The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at City Hall.