Occupancy exceeded: Banff, Alta., home possessed more than 40 beds

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has issued an enforcement order against a Banff home after an inspection discovered that as many as 42 people were staying inside the property.

AHS released details of the home, located at 321 Squirrel Street, on its public website and said the maximum number of occupants of the facility “was exceeded.”

“The 16 persons maximum occupancy was exceeded. A total of 42 beds and/or mattresses were counted in the facility,” the order reads.

In addition, the health inspector found a variety of other issues such as holes in the walls of the home, leaking and dirty faucets in need of maintenance and a basement dwelling that did not have a window.

The enforcement order says the occupancy situation inside the home is in violation of Alberta’s Minimum Housing and Health Standards.

As a result, AHS ordered the owners of the property to make changes inside the home, specifically to address the extreme number of beds.

“Remove the bed in the basement room with no window,” AHS said.

“Remove additional beds/mattresses so that no more than 16 tenants are accommodated and maintain a maximum of no more than 16 tenants thereafter.”

BANFF’S STRUGGLE WITH AFFORDABLE HOUSING

According to officials with the Town of Banff, the mountain community has been faced with housing challenges for decades, partially fuelled by a near-zero vacancy rate on rental accommodations.

An affordable housing complex, situated on Coyote Lane, opened in 2018 and was jointly funded by the town and the provincial government.

Karen Sorensen, who was Banff’s mayor at the time, said a large proportion of the community’s population is under 35 years old while its average income is below Alberta’s average.

“We have a great need to accommodate people in an affordable way. We depend very much on a younger generation to operate the town,” she said during the grand opening of that facility.

“They are the people who work in the tourism industry. We need to make sure that everybody’s comfortably housed.”

The Town of Banff released a written statement in response to the AHS findings:

“Together with the private and non-profit sector, the Town of Banff has helped to add affordable housing options in Banff over the past several years. Just as the COVID pandemic struck, we saw the vacancy rate for rental apartments increase. So big picture, we know we’ve been able to move the needle on this top community priority.”

“However, we certainly need more affordable housing in Banff and we will continue to explore opportunities to add to the housing stock. As a community who welcomes the world, Banff is a beautiful place to live but it’s imperative that it’s also a safe and comfortable place to call home. As such, we will continue to work with the provincial agency to monitor the housing situation in Banff and to ensure landlords comply with our stringent occupancy and safety requirements.”

The town says more affordable housing units are in the works at two other sites.  

(With files from Kevin Fleming)

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