City staff are moving quickly in response to direction from City Council about concerns with housing in five inner city Edmonton neighbourhoods.
In early November, Council will discuss a proposed family-oriented home ownership program in one or more of the neighbourhoods, according to Jay Freeman, Executive Director of Housing and Homelessness with the City. If the proposal is approved, the five neighbourhoods will be asked about their interest in participating.
Council voted in August to extend for another year the moratorium on non-market housing in the five neighbourhoods. However, in his presentation to Council, McCauley resident John Kolkman described the moratorium as a “blunt instrument” and urged more flexibility.
Council agreed and directed City staff to suggest exemptions to the moratorium, including mixed housing and homeownership projects. A report on those exemptions is due early in 2016.
During a Council meeting in August, several residents in the five neighbourhoods complained about poorly maintained properties and related issues of slum landlords and problem rooming houses.
Council directed City staff to develop strategies to address these concerns. As a first step, about 80 people from the five neighbourhoods attended a meeting in September hosted by the City to talk about possible strategies.
Freeman noted that City Council is also “walking the talk” in supporting a more equitable distribution of non-market housing in all parts of Edmonton. In late July, the City announced that any new housing built on the 17 surplus school sites must include affordable housing.
McCauley Community League President Mike Van Boom, who made a presentation to Council in August, was elated with the actions.
“I think City Council responded very well to the perspectives raised. Their decision to uphold the moratorium for a further year until a more nuanced and longer term solution can be determined reflects a healthy practice of both good listening and careful judgment.”
Phil O’Hara is a resident of McCauley and the Vice-President of the McCauley Community League.