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Ministers questioned about affordable housing in Grande Prairie

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Signs of a revived economy are popping up all over the region but that’s sparking concerns about housing costs. Finance Minister Joe Ceci is wrapping up his post budget tour, and made a stop in Grande Prairie Wednesday.

Energy Minister and Dunvegan – Central Peace – Notley MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd joined him for this leg and made a stop at City Hall where they met with Mayor Bill Given and council. Given says they want more information on $1.2 billion that was committed to affordable housing a few budgets ago.

“We need to start to see those funds being released and put to use in communities like Grande Prairie where we are facing some very significant affordable housing crunches that are only going to get worse as we see economic activity pick up in the region.

Given says there are number of projects groups in the city are considering and guaranteed funding could help move those along. He also says it is important to stay ahead of the housing market becoming red hot. That’s something Minister Ceci echoes.

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“Our economy is doing better so the private sector is stepping up and starting to reinvest now in necessary projects around Alberta. It’s not totally there but we can turn down the public tap a little bit and continue to invest in things education, hospitals and post-secondary institutions.”

Ceci acknowledges with growth comes challenges, while McCuaig-Boyd says she is seeing a similar situation in her region just north of Grande Prairie.

“I’ve heard two areas. Supported housing and also for some seniors housing where it’s maybe more affordable housing so they can stay in their homes longer or stay in a home situation.”

McCuaig-Boyd says she is hearing some energy companies are struggling to fill positions in her region and she hears ervery day of more workers moving in. In previous boom periods rental rates in Grande Prairie were as low as 1.2 per cent in 2014 which led to increased rents in the area as well.

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