PrairieWild Consulting, a firm of community planning experts based in Saskatoon, were in Unity, SK, in mid April, meeting with various groups of people to discuss perceived housing needs in Unity and area. The consultants’s two days of meetings wound up April 15 with a public meeting at the Unity Community Centre.
Prior to the public meeting, they had met with local focus groups, the Unity and District Chamber of Commerce, high school and elementary school students, town council and the RM of Round Valley. They have also done work with other communities in the area, including Wilkie and Kerrobert.
A slide in the introductory PowerPoint presentation set out that, “The Housing Plan Will: Contain an inventory of the existing state of housing in Unity; Identify a continuum of anticipated housing needs for future development; Provide direction and guidance for future housing development in Unity on a 15+ year time horizon; Identify roles and relationships on housing for the Town and the RM of Round Valley; Set targets and priorities for housing development; Identify strategies for achieving housing targets, including relationships with the RM; and Identify performance measures and methods of reporting on progress.”
PrairieWild staff were here in March, walking the streets with cameras and notepads in hand, gathering the information to create the inventory of current housing in Unity. The bulk of housing available in Unity is single, detached homes and, according to the consultants, that fact is reflected in the average price of housing locally.
The PrairieWild staff put the approximately 20 people in attendance at the public meeting through some small group exercises, designed to elicit input from the community before they complete their report. Participants were asked what would be the ideal housing mix for Unity and what was currently missing from that list. One common theme which emerged from each group included the need in town for rental housing for young families.
Participants also completed a mapping exercise, choosing locations in and around town for various types of housing including assisted living, condominiums, short term lodging, small country living acreages, rental homes, apartments and single detached homes. Finally, groups came up with what was needed when, looking one to five years, five to 10 years and 10 to 15 years into the future.
All the information, maps created and timelines filled in were collected for consideration by PrairieWild as they work to complete Unity’s housing study and plan. They will be presenting a draft report to town council May 7, with the final report due May 19.