City needs more housing

Lacombe needs more homes. At its regular meeting on Nov. 25, Lacombe City council heard a presentation from Anna Bubel

Lacombe needs more homes.

At its regular meeting on Nov. 25, Lacombe City council heard a presentation from Anna Bubel of Another Way Consulting regarding the findings of its recent housing needs assessment.

In her presentation, Bubel told councillors that not only is Lacombe lacking availability and diversity in its housing market, what exists is often unaffordable.

Most Lacombians, particularly those who are renting or have recently moved to the community, could tell you without a study that Lacombe’s housing market is very competitive and the City is in need of more housing options.

However, it is still important to have studies like these to give the City a clearer picture of how much housing is needed to solve the problem, where it is needed and what kinds of housing options should be implemented.

Also, as Bubel said in her presentation, the facts don’t always line up with the assumptions we have in our minds.

During (and since) the recent municipal election, we have heard a lot about Lacombe’s need for commercial growth. Indeed, our community is in dire need of more businesses of all kinds.

That said, it is vital to remember the importance of continuing Lacombe’s residential growth and with that, how the two are connected.

If the City is successful in stimulating commercial growth and encouraging more businesses to come to Lacombe, the people who work for those businesses are going to need places to live. If people refrain from working in Lacombe’s businesses because they can’t find any place to live, how exactly are those businesses going to stay successful?

While Lacombe is facing problems attracting people to live here, neighbouring communities such as Sylvan Lake and Blackfalds are experiencing explosive growth. Lacombe’s situation is different from these neighbouring communities for a number of reasons; Lacombe’s vacant services lots are expensive to develop and nearby unserviced land that may be suitable for development are not owned by the City.

Regardless of the cause, this is a key problem that Lacombe’s new City council must find a solution to.

As many candidates alluded to during the election, Lacombe could get left behind by its neighbours in terms of growth unless something is done soon.

Council heard a few recommendations on how to find that solution, such as seeking further community input from stakeholders like realtors, builders, developers and landlords. How they will use that information to achieve some tangible results remains to be seen.

It is clear something needs to be done though. Otherwise, things will only get worse.