Housing industry expert discusses everything from affordable housing to the best room in her home
Marissa Toohey has one of the better views of Calgary’s housing industry – and we’re not talking about the one out of her living room. As manager of government relations and committees for the Calgary Region at CHBA – UDI Calgary Region Association. Toohey works closely with municipalities in the broader region on matters impacting the building and development industry.
CREB®Now recently had the opportunity to sit down with her to chat about everything from affordable housing to a national housing strategy. Here’s what she had to say:
CREB®Now: Affordable housing has become a high-priority topic that many local organizations are now addressing. What role does CHBA-UDI Calgary play in contributing to finding a solution?
“I don’t believe there is a single solution that will solve affordable housing, but more collaboration will create efficiencies and better outcomes.
Toohey: I don’t believe there is a single solution that will solve affordable housing, but more collaboration will create efficiencies and better outcomes. At CHBA-UDI, we are meeting regularly with government and affordable housing providers through Calgary’s Community Housing Affordability Collective to explore public policy and share market and development insights and solutions. Private industry is doing some great work to supply more units through initiatives like the RESOLVE campaign and Calgary’s Attainable Home Ownership Program.
CREB®Now: What has CHBA-UDI Calgary’s involvement been leading up to proposed changes announced to the Municipal Government Act?
Toohey: The modernized MGA will affect how cities in the region are developed, so our team has been paying close attention and providing feedback through working sessions hosted by the province. The details remain to be seen through the regulations. We will be advocating for improvements in areas that have potential to impact affordability, such as development levies, decision-making timelines, inclusionary housing, growth management boards and inter-municipal collaboration, as well as the city charters.
“I’d like to see the strategy address all elements of the housing spectrum, from shelters and supportive housing to affordable ownership and market housing.”
CREB®Now: The federal government recently wrapped up consultations on a national housing strategy. What do you hope to see in there and what do you hope is prioritized?
Toohey: Federal investment is needed to renovate existing, dated affordable housing stock and for new construction. I’d like to see the strategy address all elements of the housing spectrum, from shelters and supportive housing to affordable ownership and market housing. We know there is a bottleneck in the system, particularly in Calgary, where it’s getting more and more difficult for people with good, steady jobs to buy a home. Market stability and enhanced affordability of entry-level market housing will ultimately allow more people to transition out of subsidized rentals and relieve pressure on the whole system.
CREB®Now: What is your favourite thing to do in Calgary on a day off?
Toohey: If I’m not in the mountains on the weekend, chances are you’ll find me jogging along the Bow River Pathway, eating at one of the newest restaurants in the city or watching a hockey game. I try to hike, ski and skate as much as I can. That’s why I choose to live in Canada, after all.
CREB®Now: What’s your favourite room in your home and why?
Toohey: My living room has great big windows that overlook the Beltline. I love sitting on the couch and watching all the people and action outside. You see some random things and it’s brilliant.