Election 2017:  Ask the candidates


It's time for municipal elections across Alberta.

In Canmore, the Commons is asking the candidates about their views on development and the environment. We're sending two questions to each candidate every Monday and giving them until Friday to respond. Their answers will be posted here each Monday and Thursday during the month-long campaign, which wraps up on election day: Oct. 16.

Mark your calendar so you remember to vote!




Switching gears for our final question, we're asking about one of the biggest issues facing Canmore: affordable housing. How would you address the CHALLENGE of affordable housing in town?

John Borrowman

(mayoral candidate)

We have been addressing the serious issue of housing availability and affordability as a top priority throughout this term of Council.

One project (48 units of rental) opened late last year and was fully occupied almost immediately. As well, a 49 unit equity based affordable housing project is now being built in the Larch area, after four years of discussions and planning. Together these two projects will give homes to close to 100 families.

We have also been working with the private sector on two projects that will add 240 purpose built long term rentals to the inventory available to residents – both of which projects were given final development permits this past week. 

Finally, we have been actively encouraging homeowners in certain neighbourhoods to develop secondary suites in their homes through an incentive program – and now have started a conversation with the community regarding permitting secondary suites within all neighbourhoods.

Ed Russell

(mayoral candidate)

We need to move beyond PAH. That part of our housing strategy is well addressed. Now we need options for those earning less. Start with a modular community, or two, where people can have ownership rewards, but the town has a constant source of return for utilities. This is only one of many strategies in the Comprehensive Housing Action Plan (CHAP) document that have never been actioned.  We must take action.  

Mark Blackwood

It is a challenge and I feel we need to look at increasing density of multi family neighbourhoods. Building larger apartment style housing that is attainable (not all granite and high end finishing) is a way to open possibilities for younger people and families who simply cannot afford the million dollar condos that have continuously popped up around town.If the town has run out of land, and we run the town like a business, why not look at buying some land for this purpose?

Wes Christensen

Well I admire efforts that are being done now, what about the entry level and seasonal workers?

We need to build more rental units single family or row housing using available land ie Burnco lot.

That is close in with transit nearby (450 meters). Also look at Smith Creek and use a trailer park model there. Why are we building in R1 Mature neighbourhoods. 

Esme Comfort

As an incumbent, I believe the existing strategic direction for the provision of affordable housing is a good one. There is not a big, automatic “fix” button to punch. Fleshing out the current initiatives: keeping Canmore liveable with accessible and complete family and community services and programs, multi-modal transportation, encouraging diversified economic development, resisting the pressure to become an exclusive resort community, will assist Canmore in preserving its essence as a welcoming, inclusive home to its residents.

Kim Csizmazia

If I’m elected to council, I will call for a complete and through review of the Affordable Housing issue, including but not limited to the current PAH homeownership model. We need to look at different levers and buttons to create affordability like zoning and reducing upfront costs to builders. While on the outside, PAH looks to support the middle class, the current PAH model is very problematic. One of the biggest problems is that it addresses only a narrow and high-income margin.

I welcome people to peruse the following links:

1) If you are interested in purchasing PAH. Check CCHC website for qualification and purchase price info and see if you will qualify.

2) Check out the following relevant links (Stats Can's Canmore census and a Globe and Mail article) or, if you can’t stand numbers, skip to photo at the end.

Chris Dmytriw

Affordable housing is not a one action- solve all problems!

First we must look at why there is a problem. I feel that previous town councils and town planners, did not act with proper foresight. Now we are paying for it and playing catch up. We must slow down development until we have accomplished this. Or incorporate the solution into new development. We need rentals(apartment buildings)and we need actual starter homes.  I would like to think that something could be worked out with one of developers that wish to expand this town. I also like the idea that was thrown around about a post secondary school. when school is out. The dorms would be available for summer staff.

Chad Friel

I believe we are already doing a good job with the affordable housing challenge. Three new projects are on their way. Should I be elected my goal would be to continue with these projects, and find ways to make them more viable and efficient. We can only get better, as long as we keep up with the programs. 

Jeff Hilstad

With regards to affordable housing, we need to continue to look at other options beyond PAH.  PAH is only one solution to affordable housing. We have two new rental apartments that have been recently approved by council which will hopefully help many in our community.  I believe we should look at other ways and or styles of affordable housing. The Blakistion on Palliser was attainable housing and sold out very quickly and had a long waiting list. This of course has it pros and cons like any affordable housing solution but I think we just need to be open to new ideas and explore all possible options.

Jill Jamieson

I think that affordable housing needs to remain a key priority for the next Town council. Affordable housing includes everything from quality staff housing, purpose built Family homes to supporting aging in place for seniors. I believe that developing affordable housing solutions by increasing long term rentals and below market home ownership has direct positive impacts on our local economy. I want to explore co-ownership models, co-housing and look at re-zoning to support innovative house options like tiny home developments

An inclusive community with a vibrant local economy is the kind of town we want Canmore to continue to be.

Jeff Laidlaw

My real issue is affordable accommodation; not housing. 

Apartments, preferably of the low-rise variety and privately owned and operated would be the ideal. This would serve the town’s needs in two ways; the first being employee accommodation issues; essentially offering employees a choice beyond dorm style living, while also potentially serving the needs of middle managers with higher incomes.

The Town of Canmore should NOT, in my opinion, be in the development business and should strive to maximize return on taxpayer dollars. 

Apartments are far more cost-effective to build and operate.

With direction from Council and through proper zoning and planning the direction can be changed, and should be.

James Louden

No response.

Karen Marra

There are 2 parts of this ownership and rental. I believe rental is the most pressing at the moment. After attending the Council meeting On Tue. Oct.3, I watched 2 rental/PAH and market housing apartment style buildings be approved, it will provide for those not wanting or readyto commit to home ownership and those that plan to stay only for a few months, years.This is what we needed, more inventory brings down rents. I have looked at the PAH program and talked to a few that are in ownership PAH, more research is needed as there has been some negative and positive sides to the PAH model that I have learned in my discussion with residents.

Joanna McCallum

The challenge of affordable housing in Canmore needs to be a multi-pronged approach. Income appropriate housing is not just needed for service workers and newcomers. It is needed for seniors, families and professionals. Council needs to continue to work with various partners to bring more housing types to Canmore. For instance, through our public partners, 60 units of seniors supportive living housing are built and funding for another 60 units of level 4/4D is approved. Through CCHC, 48 units of purpose built PAH rental have been built and occupied and 49 Units of Ownership PAH is planned for the Old Day Care Lands. Through the private sector, 238 units of purpose built rental have received permits to build and council opened up discussion around expanding accessory suites permission to other neighbourhoods. This kind of housing is critical for seniors and boomers to succession plan for their housing needs. Additionally, Canmore needs to continue to lobby the province for the right kind of inclusionary zoning, allowing us to require affordable housing in developments. 

Vi Sandford

Support and enhance the mechanisms already in place since (CCHC) Canmore Community Housing Corporation has a number of options and strategies, including long-term rental housing and PAH housing. PAH promotes ownership, investment and long-term commitment to living in the community. This long-term commitment encourages families with children to fill our schools, staff our businesses, and commit to citizen engagement in our community. As opportunities arise, these families may be positioned to move up into other market housing types and age-in-place over the long-term. Dedicated rental projects like The Palliser Lands Northveiw REIT Development, providing 148 CCHC and market rental units, and the Coast Hotel Project with 98 market rental units, could also be encouraged. The Land Use Bylaw updates to support the recently completed Municipal Development Plan will be put to the new Council, and ways to provide secondary suites throughout Canmore will be open for consideration.

Rob Seeley

Council, CCHC, and community partners have increased both PAH purchase and rental products coming to market, employee housing, along with increasing market rental units. Continuing to grow this affordable housing and inventory is critical. Introducing additional rental suites in existing neighborhoods, furthers this important initiative. Mortgage helpers on new and existing housing, helps as well. The Chap document refers to 1000 units of affordable housing being required. With 400 units of new product being introduced this council term, increases our community number to 600. A recent livability session indicated that communities plan and talk about increasing affordable housing, the important part is building it and taking action. The last 4 years our community has moved quickly forward and Council identified affordable housing as their number 1 priority. I would continue to increase affordable housing stock. Short term rentals need to be regulated in a responsible manner and there are many factors to consider. Balance and opportunity need to be explored community integrity preserved.