Residents and businesses are being invited to help define, and design, solutions to housing shortages in Jasper. With the goal of creating developments which would ease Jasper’s housing shortfall, members of the Jasper Community Housing Corporation are asking businesses and residents to help quantify the need for local staff and seniors’ housing.
The JCHC wants to hear from people by February 25, said Mark Fercho. Fercho, the CAO of the Municipality of Jasper and a member of the JCHC, said time is of the essence.
“The need has been defined, it’s time to get something done,” he said. For starters, that something would include participating in the planning and design process of new accommodations for both staff and seniors. Businesses have long-argued that staff shortages hamper the success of Jasper’s economy. Similarly, seniors looking to downsize from their full-sized homes have for years had few options; local seniors facilities are at capacity and wait-listed. Glen McGrath, who manages Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge on behalf of the Evergreens Foundation, is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging. McGrath said like most communities across Canada, Jasper is trying to figure out ways to respond to aging baby boomers’ housing and healthcare needs. “If we can give seniors options, it creates an opportunity to free up space for young families and for rentals,” McGrath said. The JCHC has lands tentatively set aside for developments. The maximum build-out for the parcel on Connaught Drive is 43 apartment-style units or 21 condo-style units. Another development, slated for the 800 block of Turret Street, could potentially fit 27 units. “This is a priority of council’s,” Fercho said. Fercho indicated that the first step was identifying the potential locations and ensuring the development could be serviced by town infrastructure. Now the JCHC wants to know who’s interested in the design process. “We want to know who these people are, so at least we can get the process started,” Fercho said. McGrath echoed the sense of urgency. He worries that any developer will come up against restrictions with the Parks Canada agency. “My concern is that with the red tape of expanding or building in the national park we won’t be able to respond as fast as the shift in demographics is happening,” he said. Fercho was confident that Parks Canada has the same goals; after all, part of the Turret development would replace current government staff accommodations. Moreover, Parks Canada’s Cathy Jenkins is a liaison with the JCHC. Fercho stressed that the developments would not be co-operative housing for residents. “It’s for businesses to get a space for staff,” he said. “That known demand hasn’t been addressed.” Interested business owners, as well as seniors, should contact the JCHC by February 25. For more information, contact 780-852-6504 or email@example.com