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City report to recommend ending 7-year pause on subsidized housing in Edmonton’s inner core

Click to play video: 'Should city end pause on subsidized housing in Edmonton’s inner core?' Should city end pause on subsidized housing in Edmonton’s inner core?
WATCH ABOVE: (From June 10, 2019) Vinesh Pratap reports on a debate about where to build subsidized housing in Edmonton – Jun 10, 2019

A report to be released Tuesday morning will recommend a pause on building subsidized housing in Edmonton’s core be lifted.

The report is part of an overall plan to create more spaces for hard-to-house individuals.

“I expect that we will see encouragement to end the pause in the five neighbourhoods,” said Councillor Scott McKeen. “I will remain somewhat skeptical about lifting the pause, but I’m much more open to it than I was in the past.”

The moratorium, for five neighbourhoods, was put in place by city council in November of 2012. The affected neighbourhoods were McCauley, Central McDougall, Queen Mary Park, Alberta Avenue and Eastwood.

LISTEN BELOW: McCauley Community League president Greg Lane joins the Ryan Jespersen show on 630 CHED

The moratorium was supposed to be in place for three years, but it was extended in 2015.

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McKeen said he has two reasons for softening his stance: 1) he’s been lobbied to allow high-quality government housing projects in these communities, where it would give people a chance to have success in life, and, 2) it’s been argued the moratorium has put a stigma on not only these core neighbourhoods, but in all parts of the city.

“Neither one of those arguments I could dodge easily,” McKeen said. “So my mind is much more open now.

“Done well, done smartly, distributed around the community, we can reduce all kinds of problems and save all kinds of money.”

READ MORE: Social housing advocates speak out about city-imposed moratorium on subsidized housing

Watch below: (From March 2016) The wait list for a subsidized home in Edmonton has more than tripled since 2014 and the list is growing. Kendra Slugoski has more on the demand and lagging supply.

Click to play video: 'Alarming number of Edmontonians waiting to get into subsidized housing' Alarming number of Edmontonians waiting to get into subsidized housing
Alarming number of Edmontonians waiting to get into subsidized housing – Mar 17, 2016

Greg Lane, the president of the McCauley Community League, said having supportive housing needs to happen in all 12 wards of the city, not just in McKeen’s Ward 6.

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“There was a promise that there was going to be some of that, I think, in this report when it’s released to council — but I haven’t seen it yet,” Lane said. “The indicators were they are going to announce [something], but it’s been going on just about a year now and there’s been nothing.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s time the NIMBYs take their share’: Where should social housing in Edmonton go?

He said the silence on that promise to spread this type of housing citywide has led to “distrust” among community members with the city.

“I think it’s been years of consultation and dialogue and I think there’s some lost faith perhaps,” Lane said. “This has been an ongoing thing. I know there were other people at the meeting that I was in attendance with that have been attending these meetings for 15-plus years.”

Lane said he and others participated in a consultation program this past December, led by communication firm Calder Bateman, that saw the five core communities express concern about concentration of poverty and concentration of services.

“The main point is that the communities really want to see affordable housing spread across the city,” Lane said.

The report to lift the moratorium will be reviewed by city council’s executive committee on June 10.

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