The Town of Banff marked the completion of the municipality’s latest affordable housing development today with a ribbon-cutting at The Aster and a welcome toast to the residents moving into the 33 new homes.
The Town of Banff developed the Aster complex with 33 dwelling units in the heart of downtown Banff to provide affordable, for-purchase housing for eligible Banff residents. This development is part of the Banff Housing Strategy to ensure those working in Banff are able to live in Banff.
“Any day that we add new housing in Banff is a day to celebrate,” said Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno. “Creating housing that people can own means helping residents become long-time members of our community – with certainty and a bond to the town they call proudly home. It also means freeing up more rental space as they graduate from apartments to these condominiums.”
Only people who are eligible to live in Banff could apply to purchase the homes. People must work in Banff to be allowed to live in the national park, or have retired in Banff after working at least five consecutive years in the community. More than 100 people registered interest in the properties and a lottery held in 2022 selected the homeowners.
“Priority was given to first-time homebuyers to give younger residents and newcomers an opportunity to enter the real estate market. And I’m so excited to say that 87% of the owners are owning their own home for the first time,” said DiManno.
The project cost $14.4 million, including land purchase, design, short-term financing and construction. The costs were recouped entirely by sales and funding from the housing reserve built up from rentals at the Town’s Ti’nu apartment complex. No municipal property taxes were used to fund the Aster or Ti’nu apartments. The homes on Banff Avenue were sold at the cost of construction only. The Town’s Banff Housing Corporation retains an equity share in homes to ensure the sale price remains below market costs.
The Aster has one, two and three-bedroom condos. The building is pet-friendly, has accessible units, a central courtyard and rooftop patio for residents, and underground vehicle and bicycle parking. Two of the units are fully accessible homes. The development preserved a historic 1920s cabin that was on the site – The Hindes Cabin – by restoring it on the top floor as a shared facility for residents. The building has solar panels and high insulation ratings and energy efficiency to target LEED Gold certification.
Joining Mayor DiManno for the ribbon-cutting were Sharon Oakley, Manager of Housing Sustainability for the Town; new Aster homeowner and longtime Banffite Karen Thomas; Matt Kennedy, principal and owner of Studio North; and Maria Landry, principal and owner of LOLA Architects.
LOLA Architecture & Studio North both designed The Aster. LOLA Architecture is the Architect on Record and Studio North is the builder.
The Aster was completed in October 2023, and almost all homeowners have already moved in.
The town is limited to the same 4 square-kilometre area as when it incorporated in 1990, preventing outward expansion. Effectively, Banff has 0% vacancy for rental apartments. The Town of Banff is developing plans for its next affordable housing complex with about 250 units in the Tatanga Ridge area on the northeast edge of town.
Banff Town Council has mobilized a Housing Action Plan to explore reducing or eliminating parking requirements in new housing development so more space is for dwellings; reducing setbacks from property lines to maximize floor area; increasing height limits; grants for homeowners to create secondary rental suites in their property; revising cash-in-lieu payments that businesses can pay when they expand and need more staff, if they don’t add housing; creating a home vacancy tax; and allowing multi-unit developments in all residential zones.
The Banff High School submitted five names for consideration for the new Development. The Aster was selected by Banff Town Council. Council selected. In its submission, students said this about the name: The aster flower is one of Banff and Alberta’s most common ornamental wildflowers. This common flower grows in and around the areas of Banff National Park. It blooms in groups during the late summer and early fall, so when you explore the Park you should see them.
For more information about the property: