By Anna Smith
The Town of Bow Island and the Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI) want to know what the future of housing looks like for the community, and they are hoping to hear it from Bow Island itself.
On behalf of the Rural Development Network (RDN), the Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI) has partnered with the Town of Bow Island to perform a Land Use Study and Engagement Strategy.
“Our main goal is to increase housing choice and diversity across Alberta, ut how that looks in a rural community is really unique,” said the Enabling Housing Choice Project Team in an interview. “The Westview Lands are a perfect example of municipal land that could be utilized to help address Bow Island’s housing needs.”
Work has already been done by the town and Scheffer Andrew, and the team is now poised to help facilitate more discussions around the layout of the parcel and have more conversations with the public.
This study is part of the Enabling Housing Choice Project, led by the Rural Development Network, which is a “three-year research and policy project that has been funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.We are hoping to tackle housing diversity and help communities across Alberta encourage growth to help provide more housing choices to their residents,” said the team.
“We will be delivering a Land Use Study at the end of this project that will give some recommendations to the Town and Council on how this space could really look and feel – informed by the community,” said the team.
Bow Island council has made housing a priority, and the team aims to provide a refined and detailed plan for what can be done with the Westview Lands to best fit the needs of the community. The team will be doing public engagement work this fall, with the intent to bring their findings to Council early next year.
“The lack of attainable housing, especially rental units is a serious issue for our community and is currently a roadblock for business attraction, retention and expansion. It is crucial that as we develop more housing options that the development be the right size and type to meet current and future needs,” says Mayor Gordon Reynolds in the press release. “I am excited to have the expertise and resources of the RDN helping us get this right.”
“We’ve already done a lot of background research, and now we are looking to hear from the residents through our survey. This will be followed by some exciting in-person engagement opportunities at the end of November, where we hope to meet the community, to get into more of the details on what the community thinks the Westview Lands could be,” said the SHI team. “We have completed initial research already that explores best practices for utilizing municipal land such as the Westview parcel, and this has provided some initial insights for our Land Use Study. But now, we want to hear more from the Bow Island community and build off some of the information that was gathered earlier this year when the Town put out a survey to the community residents.”
Next steps for Bow Island are providing that mail-out survey, followed by in-person community engagement in later November, said the team.
“Residents’ voices are key. Please take the survey, and share with your friends! Join us in person at our community engagement events in later November, and keep a look out for more information about these events in the coming weeks,” said the team.
To find out more about EHC, visit https://www.housingredefined.ca/enabling-housing-choice-project.