Discussing the Nordegg Development Plan with Jose Reyes, Clearwater County’s Director of Planning, to find out more about how it impacts our housing challenges.
Most of the discussion centred around housing and how the challenges that we are facing as a community might be addressed. Some of the key items included the need for a more diverse housing mix, the phases of development and the process involved in updating zoning bylaws.
On the housing mix side, a lot of the discussion was about the need for rental housing of various types (single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, staff housing, etc). Although the current pricing for lots can make owning appealing, a broader mix is needed for a mountain town focused on tourism.
At this point the County is not planning to be involved in building or managing rental housing. This could change but would need to be a direction set by Council.
Multi-family housing (e.g. duplex) could be an option on Lily Avenue which is scheduled to be developed this summer, with lots sold in 2023.
The timing of the development phases in the Nordegg Development Plan is in part to minimize the expenses related to infrastructure development like water and sewer. This is the main reason why certain areas, designated for multi-family housing, cannot easily be developed in the short term.
This will become more of a challenge once the commercial lots are developed. The second-floor apartments are a great way to make the downtown more vibrant and while they will provide some housing, this will not be enough to address the increased pressure on housing that will come with new businesses opening.
There were some great conversations around zoning changes to promote residential development (for example changing the zoning for recreational lots), implementing restrictions to promote affordable housing, and allowing expanded staff housing at the Shunda Creek Hostel, the Goldeye Centre or the industrial park.
Some of these are being considered as part of the Land Use Bylaw update that will follow the Municipal Development Plan update. Others, like a connector road between the townsite and the industrial park or an affordable housing mandate, would require a new direction to be set by Council.
Short-term rentals and the pressure they put on residential housing were also discussed. These could be regulated as businesses in a number of ways but at this point, there are no specific bylaws in the work.
Many thanks to Jose for the open discussion and for taking the time to explain the why behind the decisions.
Frozen Wonderland Content Shoot
The other item on the agenda was a follow-up on the plans for the upcoming photo shoot and test events showcasing our Frozen Wonderland theme.
The details have been sent out to all who have signed up.