The Grande Spirit Foundation is looking to build a six-unit apartment building for social housing in Sexsmith.
On Monday night, Sexsmith town council moved forward in supporting the Grande Spirit Foundation in the project. Administration was directed to come back to council with a confirmation of cost for council approval.
Sexsmith chief administration officer Rachel Wueschner spoke to council on the need for social housing in the town.
Grande Spirit currently has 15 families on a waitlist for social housing in Sexsmith, she said.
The average length of stay in social housing in Sexsmith is three years, said Wueschner.
The town will use funds from the sale of its previous social housing homes to help with the build cost, said mayor Kate Potter. The town would also be providing the land for the new build.
The area that the town wants to build the complex is just east of the medical centre, she said.
Coun. Dennis Stredulinsky said that the location would be beneficial to the families as the site is central and close to the downtown, so families without vehicles would be close to all the town's amenities.
Grande Spirit will also require that no taxes be levied by the town, which was previously done for social housing in the town.
“If you have the choice between raising your family in Grande Prairie on low-income housing or in Sexsmith on low-income housing, most people choose Sexsmith because overall, it feels like the safer community,” said Potter.
“It is crucially important for our community that this is here,” said coun. Clint Froehlick.
“I think Sexsmith is a perfect fit for a project like this,” said coun. Bruce Black.
“We are an open and welcoming community,” said Potter, and that people come from a variety of situations and may need help at times.
The previous housing in the town was comprised of individual housing units; the town was advised by Grande Spirit that multi-unit housing is the way of the future, the CAO told council at Monday’s meeting.
Having a single multi-unit allows for less maintenance with only one sidewalk to the unit, and a potential location close to parks will eliminate a need for a big yard.
Wueschner said that according to an assessment by Grande Spirit, there is not a lot of affordable housing available for rent in Sexsmith.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News