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Lacombe housing needs studied

Lacombe city council is looking at the housing needs of its citizens.

Lacombe city council is looking at the housing needs of its citizens.

On Monday, council adopted in principle the report, Practices and Policies for a Course Correction: A Housing Strategy for the City of Lacombe, that offered ways to increase the range of housing choices, improve the affordability of housing stock, enhance the sustainability of housing and infrastructure, and maintain a sense of community.

“We are by and large a single-family dwelling community, but 25 per cent of our households are singles so there appears to be a mismatch there in terms of our population demographic and our housing product,” said chief administrative officer Norma MacQuarrie on Wednesday.

“Our vacancy rate is below one per cent so we don’t have rental opportunities for many people who may require that type of housing.”

She said a lot are also paying in excess of 30 per cent of their income on housing.

“The cost of housing in Lacombe is at a point where it’s become unaffordable for some.”

Suggestions in the report to increase housing choice included promoting house sharing, creating builder incentives, amending the municipal development plan, among others.

Ideas to increase affordability included creating a co-op housing program, earmarking sites for affordable housing, providing forgivable loans for secondary suite construction, and more.

Some of the ways to improve sustainability included educating the public on the benefits of energy conservation and efficiency, attracting builders with track records of green building design and construction, offering home energy efficiency rebates.

Options to maintain sense of community included hosting civic engagement opportunities, encouraging the design and building of front porches, requiring new subdivisions to have lanes and rear yard garages, and others.

MacQuarrie said these housing issues are not unique to Lacombe, but what will be unique is how the city meets its challenges.

She said it is critical that the city work with the development community and decide how “leading edge” it wants to become in terms of introducing new and different housing options.

The city will start by reviewing its municipal development plan.