Edmonton earns top spot among Canadian cities as a leader in housing affordability

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Photographer: Cece Concepts | Source: Unsplash

The Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) recently released the results of their 2022 Municipal Benchmarking Study. Out of the 21 Canadian cities reviewed, Edmonton ranked number one for addressing some of the key issues that put pressure on affordable housing and supply.

This recognition is an excellent sign that industry experts view Edmonton’s pro-business approach to the housing market as a key strategy that will continue to draw people to the province, while making good on its promise of affordable homes.

Migration to Alberta set to continue in 2023

The population of Edmonton has increased 9.63% from 2017 to 2021. In the third quarter of 2022 alone, the total net migration into Alberta was 52,582. This includes newcomers to Canada as well as migration from other provinces.

Despite the recent drop in house prices in some of Canada’s most expensive cities, namely Vancouver and Toronto, home ownership in those cities sadly remains well out of reach for many young adults aged 25-44. These individuals are flocking to Alberta and Edmonton in particular as the city offers them an affordable opportunity to own a home.

Ensuring that there are adequate housing options to meet demand while also maintaining affordability will be important as Alberta’s population increases.

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City policies aim to reduce red tape as a way to foster a healthy housing market

The CHBA looked at three categories when ranking Canadian cities: approval timelines, government charges, and planning features. They found Edmonton ranked highest overall for the least red tape in planning processes and systems, permit approval timelines, and building fees.

Among developers and construction companies, lengthy and expensive approval processes have a negative impact on the speed of house construction and result in higher construction costs being transferred to homebuyers.

Updating policies, automating procedures and reducing fees all help maintain home affordability

Steps that the City of Edmonton has taken to help improve Edmonton’s home-building rules include things like automating most development permits, removing minimum parking requirements, and abolishing single-family-home-only zones. City manager, Andre Corbould, estimates that these steps amount to savings of $5.3 million and 67,000 days of work for developers and builders each year.

“Moving forward, it’s critical we continue to create a business-friendly and a family-friendly environment that provides a clear and consistent picture of requirements, timelines, best practices and, of course, costs. Equally important is our continued collaboration with our housing industry partners like CHBA to address adequate housing supply and speed to market for development.” - Andre Corbould, Edmonton City Manager

Many strategies play a role in affordable housing

Maintaining home affordability is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. It is encouraging that Edmonton is being recognized for taking these important steps to reduce barriers and help create a business-friendly environment.

Continued collaboration and cooperation among policy-makers and developers/builders is necessary to ensure Edmonton can keep up with growth responsibly and affordably.

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