I posted most of my thoughts on this to Facebook earlier this weekend. Since then, the media coverage of this weekend’s Homeless Connect even has focused on Edmonton’s current demand for affordable housing. Also, I took a good look at the Executive Committee agenda for this week. While the Blatchford Redevelopment Advisory Group may be looking to keep a limited definition of affordable housing in the community’s plan, it’ll be a hard position for them to defend. The city’s affordable housing strategies and related advocacy are both on Council’s agenda before Blatchford, and they involve the expanded definition city administration wants included in Blatchford.
A report going to City Council raises concerns over affordable housing in Edmonton’s new Blatchford development. – CTV Edmonton
This of course comes two weeks after the city launched the http://nonmarkethousing.ca campaign: ” By providing Affordable Housing (including: supportive housing, supported housing, social housing and independent living affordable housing) in all areas of the city, lower-income households are able to live where they choose and remain close to family and friends, rather than being forced to move away to other neighbourhoods when life cycle or health needs make it necessary to seek Affordable Housing.
From the report to Council: “Nonetheless, given the demonstrated need for affordable housing in all its manifestations it is recommended that a more expansive definition of affordable housing be used. A more expansive definition of affordable housing also better reflects Municipal Development Plan policy:
4.4.1 Ensure neighbourhoods have a range of housing choice to meet the needs of all demographic and income groups and create more socially sustainable communities.”
We need more housing choice across the city, not just concentrated in a few neighbourhoods. The defintions of affordable housing in the housing campaign they launched this month are all in demand. It was just last month that Council was discussing and publicly venting about an affordable housing crisis and wanting it as a federal campaign issue. If Council’s not willing to do this in the largest project for which the City of Edmonton will ever serve as developer, then they’re sinking their own cause and providing the ammo that’ll be used in the next NIMBY explosion over a project down the road.
From nonmarkethousing.ca; “Research in Alberta has shown in studying communities with and without Affordable Housing that property values do not vary over time due to the presence of Affordable Housing developments.”
Clearly the Blatchford Redevelopment Advisory Group disagrees with the city’s awareness campaign if they’re willing to state in a public report that the expanded definition of affordable housing will scare developers off to neighbourhoods where these projects aren’t a certainty. That’s a problem for Council’s advocacy campaigns, hopefully it factors into their questions.