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City land sale to boost supply of affordable housing in Calgary

One of the sites the City of Calgary is looking to sell to non-profit groups to encourage construction of more affordable housing units is pictured on Google Earth on June 5, 2017.
One of the sites the City of Calgary is looking to sell to non-profit groups to encourage construction of more affordable housing units is pictured on Google Earth on June 5, 2017. Google Earth

The City of Calgary is selling seven pieces of land at below market value in an attempt to spur interest to build more affordable housing units.

City council recently approved the sale of land parcels in Saddleridge, Forest Lawn, Albert Park, Hillhurst and in the downtown core, after it realized it had a surplus.

Some of the properties are vacant, while others are already occupied by buildings, but have been chosen because of their proximity to such amenities as transit and grocery stores.

READ MORE: Rent took up more of Calgarians’ income in 2015 than previous years: report

The president of Calgary Housing Company, Sarah Woodgate, said Wednesday that non-profit groups seeking to build affordable housing in Calgary have had trouble acquiring land.

“There are meetings about two to three times a week,” Woodgate said. “We have interested parties looking for land in partnership with the city. This will provide an opportunity for the non-profits to put their applications in and we can evaluate them.”

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The City of Calgary has a list of more than 60 non-profit affordable housing providers that are candidates for the land. But the groups that are chosen will have to meet a specific set of criteria.

“Project readiness, capacity, demonstrated experience in building affordable housing projects,” said Doug Cassidy, the director of real estate for the City of Calgary, listing off some of the criteria.

“We expect that in some cases there will be a partnership between a market builder and an affordable housing provider,” he added.

Applications will be accepted until Oct. 6.

The city is hoping this initiative can create up to 350 new affordable housing units.