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EDITORIAL: It’s more than just a housing issue

Survey finds that affordable housing tops the list of priorities for Okotoks businesses.
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Access to affordable housing has become such an all-encompassing topic these days that it shouldn’t come as a surprise where it reared its head recently. 

The Town of Okotoks partnered with Deloitte Canada, an economic development consulting firm, to conduct an online business survey this spring to better understand the needs of the local business community. After hearing from about 30 per cent of Okotoks businesses, Deloitte used its proprietary methodology to come up with a list of top priorities. 

What topped the list? Was it the availability or cost of commercial space, government red tape or property taxes? What about the cost of labour, supply chain issues or transportation? They were all on the list but the priority that sat at the top was none other than access to affordable housing. 

Given that issue likely wouldn’t have even made the list 10 or 20 years ago, the fact it’s now No. 1 speaks volumes to the impact an inadequate housing inventory is having on other aspects of society. 

Employers have a hard time attracting or retaining employees if those workers can’t afford to live nearby, so the more that housing becomes out of reach, the greater the difficulty it will be to ensure a stable workforce. 

Lack of affordable housing used to be an issue that was the domain of resort towns where limited stock, high rents and the need for a significant number of service positions added up to trouble for employers, however with housing affordability becoming an issue in more and more communities, those challenges are now being faced by an increasing number of employers. 

The lack of affordable housing isn’t just a housing issue as its impacts are creeping into other aspects of our lives, as evidenced by the recent findings of the Town’s business survey. Governments must stop talking about it and start making some headway on the issue.