by KORIE MARSHALL
For 120 households in Valemount, their combined income is below the low income measure for 2013; 95 households are in housing need, with 35 households at risk of homelessness; and 50 homes are in need of major repairs, according to a presentation to Council last week.
Valemount Council commissioned a study of the needs and demands for affordable housing in late-2015. Matthew McNeil of Housing Strategies presented the preliminary report to Council via Skype at the Jan 26th meeting. The full report will soon be available on the Village’s website, and Council plans to give detailed consideration to the report’s recommendations at the next regular meeting on Feb. 9th.
McNeil estimates by 2035, Valemount will have a permanent population of between 715 and 1065, but there will be growth from non-permanent residents, regardless of ski resort development. He says almost a quarter of the population has turned over between 2006 and 2011, and the tendency has been towards losing families, and gaining older adults, both empty nesters and seniors. He says there is an increasing proportion of single people, including more single fathers, and that many single people are co-habitating.
Overall, McNeil says, incomes are increasing, but not for single parents. He says that social assistance and poverty levels are below the provincial average, but 120 households make below the Low Income Measure for 2013. Housing values are lower than the provincial average, but costs for both homeowners and renters are increasing. Besides 23 independent living units for seniors, there are no non-market housing units (affordable or supportive housing) and limited staff accommodations.
According to an analysis of available statistical data for the area, McNeil says 60 households are in “core housing need”, meaning they spend between 30 and 49 per cent of their income on housing, and 35 are in “severe housing need”, spending 50 per cent or more on housing, which puts them at risk of homelessness. Fifty homes are in need of major repairs, or 10.5 per cent of the inventory, above the provincial average of 7.2 per cent.
According to the presentation, the full report also compiles some best practices that could be utilized in Valemount, grouped under four themes: how to build housing in a way that makes it more affordable; legal structures that help promote greater housing affordability; tools to help finance the construction of housing to provide better affordability; and supports municipalities can provide to promote better affordability.
The report also makes a number of recommendations to help meet three main goals: minimizing the loss of existing affordable housing; encourage the development of new affordable housing; and building additional community capacity for affordable housing.
Next steps suggested by McNeil include reviewing and prioritizing the recommendations based on local opportunities and capacity; consulting with the community on implementation strategies; developing detailed implementation plans; and proceeding with implementation. Council deferred further consideration of the report until the next regular meeting, when staff expects to present a summary of the findings and key recommendations.