Information from Drumheller Town Council Committee of the Whole Meeting
Monday, January 16, 2023
Drumheller Mayor Heather Colberg opened the meeting.
Councillor Tom Zariski wished listeners a happy Chinese New Year.
Representatives from the Town’s auditors, BDO Canada, Mitchell Kennedy and Alan Litster presented the committee with an audit planning report. BDO will conduct an audit on the Town’s financial statements ending December 31, 2022. Planning and interim audit work began in November 2022 and it is estimated final audit reports will be presented to council in March, with final presentation of the audited financial statements to be brought to council in April.
Auditors will work with management and provide timely and constructive management letters, including deficiencies in internal controls identified during the audit.
Economic Development manager Reg Johnston and ISL Engineering community planner Courtney Lawrence presented council with an update on the Drumheller Housing Strategy.
ISL has been working with administration over the past few months on the Housing Strategy to help identify key needs within the community. This has been done through different community engagements, including online community surveys, community drop-in sessions and two community open houses in November.
It is anticipated the population of Drumheller will continue to grow to somewhere between 8,846 and 9,032 residents by 2031 and there will be a need for some 367 to 426 additional homes by this time. The greatest need will be for three, four, and more bedroom units, with the greatest population growth expected in the 65 and older demographic.
A majority of home sales within the community since 2013 have been for single detached homes, and this stock type accounts for over 90 per cent of sales per year.
Ms. Lawrence acknowledged there is close to a zero per cent average vacancy rate based on online posts and stakeholder feedback.
Along with looking at housing data, the strategy also looked at the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and Land Use Bylaw (LUB). Ms. Lawrence noted there are specific policies in the MDP which are supportive of housing diversity through secondary residences and flex units. She added the LUB also offers flexible opportunities for development and supports diversity and affordability; it is estimated there is a current need for 525 affordable homes, with an additional need for 184 to 214 homes by 2031.
One challenge is short term vacation rentals; as of October 2022, there were some 98 short term rentals in the community. A priority is to regulate these rentals, which are potentially taking away options for long term rentals and decreasing affordability of the rental market. Mr. Johnston noted administration is already in discussions with some of these owners and is in the process of developing some regulations surrounding these rental types.
Low rental vacancy rate has also impacted employee housing, especially for seasonal employees.
Four goals and actions were developed based on this information-encouraging a diverse mix of housing types; increasing supply and maintaining existing rental housing; facilitating housing with support services; and strengthening partnerships and community capacity.
Complete minutes from council meetings can be found on www.drumheller.ca once they have been adopted.