Alberta Election Key Issue: Housing Affordability

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With the election kickoff and throne speech on February 4, the Canadian Home Builders Association of Alberta is happy the government has recognized the urgent need to focus on the province's infrastructure, but there is more to be done. "Our organization knows that housing affordability is the key issue of the election," said Kathy Watson, CHBA-Alberta director of government relations.

Alberta is facing huge challenges in the near future and housing affordability underpins our future growth

Alberta election key issue: housing affordability

With the election kickoff and throne speech on February 4, the Canadian Home Builders Association of Alberta is happy the government has recognized the urgent need to focus on the province's infrastructure, but there is more to be done.

"Our organization knows that housing affordability is the key issue of the election," said Kathy Watson, CHBA-Alberta director of government relations. "Strong municipal infrastructure is a key component of housing affordability."

The throne speech mentioned building new schools and health infrastructure, all important projects, but no mention of crumbling roads, bridges and sewers, let alone the need for new municipal infrastructure to support Alberta's growing population.

According to provincial government figures, the population of Alberta is approximately 3.5 million and is projected to grow to 4.6 million by 2033.

"Will the planned $6 billion per year spending on infrastructure be enough to support this growing population?" asked Watson. "Less than one-quarter is going to municipal infrastructure."

The replacement cost of Alberta's infrastructure is estimated at $231.6 billion and municipal infrastructure makes up 54 per cent of that. Highways are next at 21 per cent.

"Clearly municipal infrastructure should be a much higher priority, especially as we build additional infrastructure as the aging infrastructure is replaced," Watson said.

The continued shortage of workers and slowing inter-provincial migration was mentioned in the throne speech. During July to September 2007, there was a net out-migration to other provinces.

"New housing affordability will keep workers coming to Alberta to support the growing economy and solve the labour shortage problem," Watson added.

Housing affordability is one reason people are leaving. Wages aren't keeping up to increasing housing costs, partially inflated by rapidly increasing city development cost charges.

With a strategic focus on housing affordability along with policy and action to support it, there will be more incentive for people to move to Alberta and for those already here, to stay.

"Alberta is facing huge challenges in the near future and housing affordability underpins our future growth" said Watson. "These challenges aren't so big that a government with vision can't solve them, no matter who wins the Alberta election."

About CHBA - Alberta

CHBA-Alberta has 1,400 members in Alberta, including 600 home builders. We represent our members on home building issues and changing standards related to home building. Check out http://www.albertahousingaffordability.ca for more information on this important issue.

Contact:
Kathy Watson, Director of Government Relations, Canadian Home Builders Assn. of Alberta
Phone (780) 424 - 5890

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