Territory asks for affordable housing ideas

The Yukon government is asking the private sector for affordable housing proposals. Responses, due in a month, will be used to craft a tender package, with the goal of having new units built before January 2013.

The Yukon government is asking the private sector for affordable housing proposals.

Responses, due in a month, will be used to craft a tender package, with the goal of having new units built before January 2013.

A 4.24-hectare lot on the corner of Range Road and Mountainview Drive is the focus of the current planning blitz, but the end product may also become a template for future affordable housing projects.

“There is currently no affordable private-sector rental housing being constructed in Whitehorse and our government intends to address that,” said Premier Darrell Pasloski in a release.

Pasloski promised during the territorial election to act swiftly to address the lack of affordable housing, with the rental vacancy rate in Whitehorse currently hovering near zero.

Right now, it’s more lucrative for developers to build condos, rather than apartment buildings. The territory wants to change this, and is asking developers to propose perks to encourage the construction of affordable housing.

Ottawa used to offer grants to developers who built apartment buildings, but these programs slowly lapsed in the 1980s and 1990s.

Another way of lowering costs may be to allow the private sector to develop the Mountainview lot themselves. Typically, the territory orchestrates the installation of utility lands and preparation of land for development, after receiving plans from the city.

The territory defines affordable rents as those at or below the current median rental rates. According to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, as of June, the median monthly rent was $800 for a one-bedroom unit, $810 for a two-bedroom unit, and $1,050 for a three bedroom unit.