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Council rezones former RCMP building for affordable housing

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:13 am

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Early steps have been taken to expand Airdrie’s affordable housing market.

On May 20, Airdrie City council voted unanimously in favour of a land use bylaw that will rezone land at 905 Edmonton Trail from Public Service District (P-1) to Direct Control (DC) to accommodate the future development of a mixed use building that will house a maximum of 21 affordable housing units.

Airdrie Senior Planner David Wyatt presented council with a conceptual design for the land that will include a three-storey, 12,000- square-foot building that will house commercial businesses on the ground level, office space on the second floor for Airdrie Housing Ltd. and Community Links, along with residential space on the third floor.

Wyatt highlighted in his presentation the opportune location for the building that is the former home of the Airdrie RCMP.

“We would be hard pressed to find a better location than this,” said Wyatt. “This location is within a one kilometre radius, which is about 10 minutes walking, from Genesis Place, City Hall, Safeway, and there are five transit stops all within that radius.”

Airdrie Housing Ltd. Managing Director Shelly Sweet explained the process the organization has gone through to reach this point, dating back to June 2011 and the acquisition of the land, to the application for re-zoning in Aug. 2013.

“This has been a very productive journey and our commitment has never wavered,” said Sweet. “We listened to resident concerns and communicated with them throughout the process with a number of public consultations.”

Concerns ranged from adequate parking space, to adding green space, to walkability of the area.

The conceptual plan includes the elimination of an existing temporary parking lot that will be turned into green space and the addition of a playground area.

Jim Hassett, of Airdrie Housing Limited, spoke about the impact and financial structure that will be associated with the new building.

“This building will represent a 50 per cent increase to our affordable housing stock,” said Hassett.

“Airdrie Housing provides $20,000 per month to residents and with the rented commercial space we should be profiting between $250,000 and $300,000 annually, this will create a self-sustaining model.”

Mayor Peter Brown joined the meeting via telephone and commended Sweet and Hassett for their dedication to the project and the manner in which they conducted their business.

“I want to congratulate you guys for your creative ideas and commend you for doing your due diligence in communicating with residents throughout,” said Brown.

Alderman Kelly Hegg had similar sentiments to Brown, congratulating the work of Airdrie Housing Ltd.

“Airdrie really prides itself on its grassroots movements,” said Hegg. “That’s really what this is, it’s a grassroots movement that has come up with something that I think will stand as a landmark in the community as a creative and sustainable site.”

The bylaw was near and dear to Alderman Fred Burley, who is a member of the Airdrie Housing Board. Burley addressed the process and called the re-zoning a “great first step.”

“What’s great to see is that the public consultation process worked,” said Burley. “Now we can move forward and look to hire an architect and start the planning process.”


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