Let's talk about...home

DATE: Tuesday October 8th, 2015

Location
The Stanford Perrott Theatre is located at the Alberta College of Art and Design. A watercolorist, Stanford Perrott taught at ACAD in the late 1960s and had studied with Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann in Massachusetts.

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

What Happened
We held a discussion on affordable housing. Many North American cities find affordability key to retaining economic diversity, and yet, affordable housing can seem in short supply. The conversation began with an exploration into the state of housing in Calgary and moved into queries of housing as public infrastructure and the diversity of housing typologies. The question was, how is affordability defined and where does the onus rest on providing an affordable roof over one’s head?

Panel Discussion
Bill Ptacek / CEO, Calgary Public Library
Sarah Arthurs / Member, Prairie Sky Co-Housing
Joe Starkman / President and CEO, Knightsbridge Homes
André Chabot / Councillor, Ward 10
Kim O’Brien / Executive Director, Horizon Housing Society (moderator)

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

Event Summary:
Bill Ptacek set the stage by identifying an affordability challenge in Calgary. Daytime use of the library, it turns out, is frequented by some who have housing as a primary need. There are an estimated 3500 waitlisted for housing in the city.

Moderator Kim O’Brien laid a foundation for the work of organizations such as Horizon Housing Society that provides affordable, integrated and supported homes to over 700 Calgarians. Demystifying affordable housing requires shedding a stigma associated with affordability. Her call was to bring on more collaborative housing, including collaborative fundraising initiatives.

Sarah Arthurs approached the term “affordable” with what is instead priceless. A resident of Prairie Sky Co-Housing for over 12 years, she revealed the social and design aspects of a more participatory experience. Sharing reduces the need to own as many tools and yet sharing is not only more affordable, but the community is priceless.

Councillor Chabot chairs both the Standing Policy Committee on Planning & Urban Development and the Gas, Power and Telecommunications Committee. While admitting that affordable housing is not a core municipal mandate, he noted that inclusionary zoning might offer an opportunity.

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

Joe Starkman’s latest development in the East Village is called N3 and known as a “zero-parking” project. Sometimes housing is unintentionally affordable. Assumptions that the building would be for a young demographic were met with seniors desiring smaller units. They weren’t worried about parking or the noise…they don’t drive and self-proclaimed that their hearing isn’t too well anyhow.

There were questions about a perceived stigma around rental housing, about contentious policy issues, and a bit about secondary suites. But one of the most interesting connections to housing that a member in the audience brought forward is the issue of loneliness.

 

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

Further Exploration:
How we address the challenge of affordability requires design thinking and the use of a number of tools. Follow-up with a panelist or reach out to your representative or your community association if you’re interested in the topic.  Find a way to volunteer if you’re so-inclined. Send us your great ideas on housing options, on cooperative models, micro units, hybrid models and multi-generational living. Visit Shelf Life to find reading material, including our “d.talks recommends…” shelf.

Event Supporters and Friends:
Thanks to the kind support of DIRTT and the Victoria Park BRZ. ACAD, Village Ice Cream, Sidewalk Citizen, Rosso Coffe Roasters, and Shamm’s Kitchen helped us with food. And to our amazing volunteers, a large thank you to each of you.

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks

image: Jesus Martin Ruiz / d.talks