The City's long-awaited housing plan has been released, and it shows that a lot of work will need to occur to meet the City's needs over the next few years.
Estevan City Council examined the detailed, 100-page document – which was compiled by the Canadian Home Builders Association's (CHBA) Saskatchewan chapter – at council's September 30 meeting. The report forecasts that Estevan will need about 1,000 new housing units over the next five years.
"That's huge, because if you look at something like Parcel F (near St. Joseph's Hospital), that's 26 lots," City manager Jim Puffalt said.
Parcel F is the final parcel of City-owned lots that will be developed for some time. The City has turned to private developers for new subdivisions in the last few years.
"The work that we have done with developers to have them encouraged to come and work inside Estevan is very promising, because otherwise, there's no way we'd have the manpower or the resources to put that many lots together," said Puffalt.
The findings in the report would place a premium on new multi-family buildings, Puffalt said, particularly apartments that are available for rent. Puffalt believes the City is making progress on that front.
Among the priorities outlined in the report are:
*Developing incentives and programs for the construction of affordable and entry-level housing;
*Foster partnerships that will increase the supply of housing in an efficient number;
*Encourage renovation of existing housing stock and construction of an adequate supply of housing to accommodate enough residents so that Estevan will have a population of more than 17,000 people by 2025, based on a moderate growth scenario;
*Maintain a provision of a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years for serviced lots;
*Promote the development of infill housing to revitalize neighbourhoods and make use of already serviced land, while increasing the density within Estevan's core.
CHBA consulted with business and community leaders, and looked and statistics and growth rates, before releasing their findings, Puffalt said. They also studied the city's demographics and labour market.
Puffalt said the document offers validation of some of the City's housing initiatives, including their existing rental property incentives; a community plan that was completed a few years ago, and efforts to encourage housing.
But affordable housing remains an issue, and CHBA-Saskatchewan did offer some solutions on how the City can remedy one of its most long-standing hurdles.
Puffalt said that he will meet with City treasurer Jeff Ward and Land Development Services manager Rob Denys to discuss what the City might be able to do on the affordable housing front.
The City also had a meeting scheduled with Saskatchewan Housing Minister June Draude in early October to discuss Estevan's housing challenges.