Q&A with surrounding communities
Calgary’s satellite communities and their respective housing markets saw economic conditions play out in different ways this past year.
CREB®Now spoke with the mayors of Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks and Chestermere to get their perspectives on 2016. Here’s what they had to say:
Cochrane Mayor Ivan Brooker
CREB®Now: Did you notice an increase in the number of younger families and downsizers gravitating toward Cochrane in 2016?
BROOKER: Cochrane still experienced a very strong year considering the current economic situation. I believe that the many recreation facilities, shopping options and parks and open spaces afforded to our residents continues to keep us a community of choice. We continue to see many younger families.
CREB®Now: How have developers responded to the latest housing trends, and has the Cochrane market reflected overall economic conditions?
BROOKER: Developers and builders have done a great job of bringing the correct products and pricing to Cochrane. Only the higher-end homes have seemed to be the product most affected by the market. Condos, townhomes and starter homes still experienced strong sales.
Chestermere Mayor Patricia Matthews
CREB®Now: Chestermere saw things slowdown in 2016. Did this allow the city to catch up?
MATTHEWS: We knew it would be slowing down. We didn’t just know by how much. Of course no one predicted the economy being in the position that it is in 2016 and 2017. A downturn in the economy gives us a chance to take a breath while our developers and builders take a breath, and do some more work on what that future looks like. We were ahead of the game, but we’ve slowed from a housing build perspective.
CREB®Now: How have home developers in the city responded to the economic climate and buyers’ needs?
MATTHEWS: We are in the process of reviewing a land use change … that looks at slightly smaller lots being incorporated into some of our development to target some of our starting-out families and our downsizing families.
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown
CREB®Now: How has Airdrie’s housing market responded to 2016 conditions?
BROWN: Even in the downturn, we are still seeing a healthy (population) growth rate at five per cent – that’s still nine people /day. As people continue to look for affordability, there are a number of great options and housing styles in Airdrie for single professionals to families. On the residential side of things, we saw a decline in new construction permits from previous years.
CREB®Now: Have commercial ventures kept pace with the continuing population growth?
BROWN: Airdrie’s commercial sector is steady and we continue to see more new businesses opening their doors. We are seeing continued development in Sierra Springs, Kingsview Market and will be seeing three new commercial developments coming on stream next year: Coopers Crossing, Midtown and Airdrie Crossing.
Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson
CREB®Now: How has Okotoks evolved to meet more diverse buyer needs in the 2016 housing market?
ROBERTSON: We’ve had the continued growth like our neighbours, but our housing stats were somewhat lower this year compared to last. We’ve had an exceptional year in industrial and commercial growth. We had $21 million in construction value non-residentially. That’s certainly helped offset the residential tax burden. The more commercial you have, the better it is for your community.
CREB®Now: What have been the greatest challenges in keeping up with a maturing housing market, particularly as it relates to infrastructure?
ROBERTSON: The Sheep River is basically capped out for licensed capacity. We have to find different ways to provide water. Our solution is to take a tiny amount of the access water capacity that Calgary has. With their conservation efforts, they’ve created extra water capacity and they’re willing to sell it to us. Our challenge is to get from the city limits down to Okotoks – a 16-kilometre pipeline at the cost of $35 million. With declining provincial revenues it’s harder to get provincial tax dollars right now.