“It’s an interesting idea that needs to be explored a bit more, obviously accepting that there could be a huge precedent here,” said Banff adviser Grant Canning.
BANFF – Four condominium associations in the Banff Housing Corporation portfolio are lobbying the Town of Banff to take over the ownership and maintenance of private roads in the subdivisions.
Residents of Sulfur Court, Riverview Court, Middle Springs Drive 100 and 200 blocks and Sundance Court argue that the costs of maintaining private roads and other infrastructure are increasing every year, resulting in increased condominium fees which make the less affordable homes.
Homeowners say private roads create a financial burden for BHC owners, noting that about $ 60 of the $ 400 monthly condo fee is spent on maintaining and replacing roads and utility infrastructure for Sundance. .
“Our point of view is that the housing company is to provide perpetual affordable housing,” said Pierre-Hugues Gagnon, who addressed the BHC shareholders meeting on September 13 as a resident of Sundance Court and not as an employee of the Town of Banff.
In response, the board, acting as shareholders, unanimously asked the administration to investigate current road ownership scenarios, including the history of why they were structured this way. . The shareholders also requested a list of other multi-residential associations made up of more than four units with private roads.
Some advisers, however, have expressed concerns about the precedent that a decision to take over ownership of these four roads may have on other private condominium developments elsewhere in the townsite outside of the BHC portfolio.
“It’s an interesting idea that needs to be explored a bit more, obviously accepting that there could be a huge precedent here,” said Coun. Grant Canning.
“It’s a big box of worms, and if the board goes down that road it will not only be dealing with the BHC, but the board needs to be very careful about what might have implications across the board. community.”
The Sulfur Court, Riverview Court, Middle Springs Drive 100 and 200 and Sundance Court BHC developments represent 79 owner-occupied units, or approximately 50 percent of the BHC portfolio.
Residents are responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of their roads and underground utilities, snow and ice management, replacement of road surfaces, replacement of water mains. aqueduct and sanitary sewer and insurance.
All four condo associations argue that funding requirements for operating budgets and capital replacement reserves limit the affordability of these BHC homes compared to other BHC properties on Jasper Way, the Middle Springs Drive 300 block. and Fairholme Place, which do not own the roads adjacent to their properties.
They note that condominium fees are a key criteria for approving financing, making it an increasing challenge for new homeowners to qualify for a mortgage.
“This situation increases the cost of home ownership by increasing the condominium fees for all BHC properties located on all four roads,” the presidents of each condominium association said in a letter to the Town of Banff.
The BHC Board of Directors supported landlord requests for the Town of Banff to take over ownership and maintenance of the four roads, given the mandate to provide affordable housing.
City of Banff officials say a gradual increase in purchases of equity homes – those in which BHC owns a percentage of a home – is starting to make it difficult for the average citizen to afford to buy.
“Lower condominium fees are much more attractive,” said Sharon Oakley, the city’s housing sustainability manager.
“It’s hard to access housing here no matter how you slice it, so anything we can do to increase the affordability of the BHC portfolio is a victory for the residents of Banff. “
However, Councilor Peter Poole expressed concern that the one-time acquisition of roads could lead to higher selling prices for these homes, which defeats the goal of keeping them affordable.
“If these responsibilities were removed, it seems to me that the selling price of properties could increase,” he said. “I think that would lead to temporal inequalities and I wonder how to deal with these temporal inequalities.”
City manager Kelly Gibson said it was certainly possible, noting it could make the home more attractive and cause house prices to rise once in a while.
“I guess on an ongoing basis this would probably have a lesser impact than the condo fees, but it could very well cause a one-time rise in prices and negate the effects of affordability through the price of the house itself.” , did he declare.
The initial decision to make the roads for these developments private in the first place was made by the Town of Banff and BHC as the developer.
Darren Enns, the city’s director of planning and development, said that while the owners would not have been involved in these conversations, they would have known the roads were private at the time of the purchase.
“I would say yes it would have been clear because they would have had a condominium plan that said ‘yes this is a private road’,” he said.