Banff sees increase to rental vacancy rate
BANFF -- If you’re looking at moving to Banff, now might be the best time in recent memory to do so.
A recent housing report released by the town revealed that rental vacancy rates jumped to more than 1.1 per cent in 2018, virtually doubling 2017's miniscule 0.6 per cent.
Banff housing officials greeted the news as a step in the right direction, but by no means is it mission accomplished.
“We’re well on our way with a one percent vacancy, but we still have work to do,” said Sharon Oakley, manager of Housing Sustainability for the town of Banff.
Oakley says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests communities have rental vacancy rates of around three to five per cent, which is challenging for a community the size of Banff.
“We’re a really small community with a four square kilometre footprint with the limitation of going up (building) three stories,” said Oakley.
“So our building footprint is very small.”
Long time resident Patrick Cyr, who has rented in Banff for nearly two decades after relocating from Quebec, was surprised by the recent statistics.
“Obviously the rent is so high I cannot afford to buy something here,” said Cyr.
“If you physically lose your apartment for any reason, you’ll be in the street.”
A strategic plan compiled by town officials several years ago aimed to reach a one per cent vacancy rate by 2022.
This news comes as the Banff ski hiring fair was hosted by the Job Resource Centre on Thursday.
That means hundreds of people looking for work through the winter are also in need of a place to live.
Steve Hopkins moved to Banff in the last week, and is hoping to secure work in the housekeeping industry.
“I talk to almost every employer here, they said to me we just filled all the housekeeping positions but we have other things, check our website,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins added that he is currently living with a friend while he looks for a job and housing.
“If this doesn’t work here, I’m thinking of going to Calgary, where I know a couple people there to stay temporarily and look around,” said Hopkins.
The new Ti’nu apartments on Coyote Lane opened in the last year, offering 131 additional units to renters.
A Banff spokesperson said about 12 per cent of rental units are overcrowded.