If Councillor Alex Reed had it his way, an initiative to provide more affordable housing would be further along.

Reed along with several councillors assured representatives of the Cochrane Society for Housing Options (CSHO) that they are keen on getting the ball rolling.

At last night's committee-of-the-whole meeting, CSHO executive director Kevin McDonald updated council on a proposed 60-unit affordable housing project that he says will triple the amount of the housing they have available in the community.

CSHO is seeking a suitable two-acre parcel of land from the town, province or federal government for the project. From there, a detailed site plan is required in order for the project to be considered shovel-ready and eligible to apply for upcoming provincial and federal government funding opportunities.

Statistics indicate, Cochrane should have about 1,300 core housing units. CSHO currently has 35 across its three different residential sites.

McDonald told council they received 90 new applications in 2023 and 22 more in the first quarter of 2024.

Based upon the current turnnover rate, he said it will take over 22 years to adequately address the core housing needs for those who applied in 2023 and about 5.5 years for the 22 who applied so far in 2024.

"It is imperative that town council, administration and CSHO work together to ensure that we have a shovel-ready project when future funding streams are released," states a report to council. "If we are unable to achieve this, we will continue to run the risk of other municipalities being awarded these funds while Cochrane struggles to meet the need of our most vulnerable citizens."

While Councillor Reed wholeheartedly supports a collective effort by CSHO and the town, he was hoping the project would be further along after receiving an impressive presentation last September.

"I guess the concern for me was 10 months to do due diligence is just too long, I think, in terms of this collective shared vision of where we want to go. I hope the town's partnership with the society will help address this, so, as Councillor Fedeyko said, let's get on with this."

Mayor Genung attempted to pin down some specifics on what's involved in getting to that next step, including finances.

"We realize the need and we want to be part of the solution, so that's the urgency you're feeling from us."

For the most part, it's too early for many of those details, but CSHO believes it might have adequate funds to complete drawings and a proposal once land has been made available. At that point, the financial picture will become clearer.

"The way I see the next phase of the process is going to be honestly a good old-fashioned barn raising event where we need the community to come together and work with us, and help us design our next build," said McDonald, clearly pleased by what he heard from council.