Execution order issued after more than 40 beds found in Banff home

“It shows how limited people’s options are and the lack of affordable housing that exists here”

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Health officials ordered the owners of a Banff property to make several changes after discovering that more than 40 people were potentially staying in the house, almost three times its maximum occupancy.

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Alberta Health Services says an inspection at 321 Squirrel Street late last month found conditions potentially “injurious or dangerous to public health.” The health authority said 42 beds or mattresses were found at the property, well above the maximum occupancy of 16, along with multiple other conditions violating Alberta housing standards, including holes in the walls, leaky taps to fix and a sleeping tenant. in a basement room with no window.

The order requires landlords to “immediately undertake and diligently pursue” several measures to alleviate the situation, including numerous repairs, removal of most beds and mattresses from the property and rental to a maximum of 16 tenants. .

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The Town of Banff said its bylaw officials have responded to multiple incidents at the Squirrel Street home over the past few years — alongside AHS, the fire department and building inspectors — to try to bring the property into compliance with local and provincial laws.

“Unfortunately this property has still not been compliant and has continued to have unsuitable living conditions,” said Planning Director Darren Enns.

Enns said the city would pursue its own enforcement action on the property, but noted it would help residents find other housing options.

“We will work to ensure that no one living on this property is left without adequate housing,” he said.

“Lack of affordable housing”

For some, the idea that more than 40 people could have crammed into a single family home is a sign of the urgent need for more affordable housing options in Banff.

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“It shows how limited people’s options are and the lack of affordable housing that exists here,” said Ebony Rempel, CEO of YWCA Banff.

YWCA Banff provides affordable housing for more than 100 people – a number that is expected to increase with the addition of 33 units in a new family building this month. Rempel said when the organization opened applications for the new building in the spring, it was inundated with inquiries.

“In a very short time, we had over 100 eligible applicants to move into our space,” she said, noting that it was off season for tourism and with little publicity. “This is just one example of what the experience is like here.”

Enns said city council has made it a priority to create more affordable housing in Banff. He mentioned that the Banff Housing Corporation – the city’s arm’s length housing organization – recently opened an affordable rental building in 2018; another should be completed next spring; and, planning is underway for another. Private companies are also continuing to redevelop properties to help house their workers, he said.

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“Unlike other communities, the Town of Banff cannot expand outward to add more housing. We have had the same boundaries since our incorporation as a city in 1990, less than four square kilometers,” Enns said, adding that the city supports and benefits from Parks Canada’s eligible residents legislation, which prohibits property ownership. a second home in the community and forces city dwellers to work in the city as well.

“This has helped control housing demand compared to other tourist communities where housing costs can be even more extreme.”

A view of Banff Avenue, the city's main thoroughfare.
A view of Banff Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare. Postmedia file

Despite recent progress, Mayor Corrie DiManno said more is needed to address the housing situation in Banff and the city needs to make sure housing lives up to the law.

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“We definitely need more affordable housing in Banff and we will continue to explore opportunities to add to the housing stock,” she said.

“As a community that welcomes the world, Banff is a beautiful place to live, but it is imperative that it is also a safe and comfortable place to call home.

While praising local government investments, Rempel said she would like to see the provincial and federal governments increase their funding for housing in Banff.

“The people who work here deserve a clean, affordable space to live in,” Rempel said.

“Serious mistake”

The 321 Squirrel Street order initially named three people as owners of the property: Jacqueline Rogers, Hannah-Maree Wilson and Gail Morgan. Rogers, who runs a bed and breakfast at nearby 312 Squirrel Street, told Postmedia that she and Wilson, her mother, were wrongly included in the original order and were never associated with the property making the object of the action.

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Rogers asked his attorney to contact AHS to remedy the error, and the document was amended Monday afternoon to show just two owners, Morgan and Janna-Joy Goff.

“I know this house has been a mess for a long time and we were all shocked to hear there were 40 beds in there, but I was even more upset to know that I was (wrongly) put there down as an owner,” Rogers says.

“I have a legal bed and breakfast and it’s beautiful, so it’s really disturbing to me that this happened… someone from the government, Alberta Health Services, made a big mistake.”

Postmedia attempted to contact Morgan, who received the verbal order from AHS officials, but did not immediately respond.

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Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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