Whitehorse launches housing study

Whitehorse city staff will be spending the next several months studying housing needs in the city.

Whitehorse city staff will be spending the next several months studying housing needs in the city.

At a council and senior management meeting on Tuesday, city council approved administration do a gap analysis about housing availability in the city. Addressing housing concerns has been identified as one of council’s strategic priorities.

Right now, the current vacancy rate in the city is 1.4 per cent. Median rent is at an all-time high at $875, according to Yukon Bureau of Statistics numbers for June. A two-bedroom apartment in Porter Creek costs about $900 to rent, senior planner Mike Ellis told council.

The city has already been researching possible ways to address housing needs. But council wants more information before it makes a decision about what next steps to take. It will take a few months for staff to pull together all the information for council, said Ellis.

The analysis will help council decide how it can best address housing needs.

The city could create a not-for-profit organization to research housing, support private developments or act as a resource centre. The city could also partner with a developer to build housing, or expand the city’s current initiatives to encourage building. Or the city could make its own affordable housing strategy.

The Yukon government is working on its own affordable housing strategy, scheduled to be completed in 2015. The city is involved in creating this strategy. Working on two strategies will divide staff’s time, Mike Gau, director of development services, told council. The Yukon government has a “lot of skin in this,” Mayor Dan Curtis said at the meeting. He will be meeting with government officials this week to clarify what the city’s role in providing housing is, he said.

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