Asking province to fund additional units
City councillors say they want to make the province pay for more post-secondary student housing after receiving pleas from a number of student associations.
After a motion was introduced by Coun. Don Iveson yesterday during a council meeting, civic politicians agreed to ask the province to build more affordable housing units that cater towards post-secondary students.
"We’re saying to the province that more beds for students is good for the entire city," said Iveson. "This could relieve pressure in the housing market."
Michael Janz, president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union, says rising housing prices have resulted in the shortage of rental spaces and having more provincially-funded student living spaces could lighten the load in the city’s tightening rental market.
"If we can move more students out of the general housing market, we will be freeing up supply for other people who need affordable housing spaces to live," he said.
The city’s housing market squeeze reached a fever pitch this summer when several protests overtook the steps of the legislature in demand of affordable housing.
Vacancy rates are expected to remain below one per cent this year and into the fall season, according to forecasts by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The city, however, already receives $45 million from the province to address housing issues, says a provincial government spokesman.
"It’s up to the city to decide where they want to spend that money," said Robert Storrier, a spokesman with Alberta Municipal Affairs and Housing.
"If this is what they consider to be their priority, they would already have the funding that is available to them."
Iveson says the province, along with universities and colleges in Alberta, haven’t done enough to develop housing plans that keep up with the growing number of students. "This is the kind of public housing project that has a lot of upside," he said. "It doesn’t have a lot of issues that comes with social housing."