Housing a Priority

Calgary’s housing vacancy rate is a priority Mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters at the July 25 release of the Civic Census.

“We really need to prioritize (the vacancy rate),” Nenshi said. “We have needed for some time to prioritize housing that matches the needs of the market and we need to continue to do that.”

According to the census — which includes data from April 2012 to April 2013, of the 442,558 housing occupied dwellings in the city, 68.5 per cent are owner occupied.

The overall vacancy rate in Calgary is 2.59 per cent compared to 2.82 per cent in the 2011-2012 census. That number is bound to change after flooding in the city displaced thousands of people — many of whom are still without homes.

“What we know is that the flood affected that vacancy rate in a number of ways,” Nenshi said. “Number one was that we know that there were some basement apartments that are no longer habitable and will not be habitable for the immediate term so that’s very clear. Number two is that there are people out of their homes, there’s still lots of people who are not living in their homes, obviously they need somewhere else to be.”

Nenshi added thirdly, the number of people living in multi-family homes who were displaced and currently staying in “alternative temporary accommodation” will soon be looking to return home or find new homes and “the market will have to accommodate for that.”

The number of vacant dwellings in the city decreased from 12,616 to 11,782. Vacant dwelling units are defined as units that are suitable and available for occupancy, excluding units under construction or renovation.

Other numbers released by the census include Calgary’s population increasing 2.62 per cent to a total of more than 1.15 million people — an increase of 29,327 residents. There was a small decrease in net migration to the city this year with numbers at 19,067 compared to 19,658 between April 2011 and 2012.

Evanston was the census’ leader in growth at a community level with a population increase of 1,680. Other communities that experienced population growth over 1,000 were Auburn Bay, Skyview Ranch, Panorama Hills, New Brighton, Copperfield and Aspen Woods.

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