Mountain Haven a home at last

| Community |

Twelve years of hard work, setbacks and determination have given
Donna Kubista her dream home at the Mountain Home Cooperative Homes
complex in Three Sisters.

“I never imagined it would take this long,” said the mother of
three. “There were times we thought it was too much work, but we never
doubted it was worth it for a minute.”

The project began in 1996 and grew to reality with a
cooperative of Canmorians moving into Perpetually Affordable Housing on
Saturday.

From the original 73 families in the Mountain Haven
Cooperative, only three are left to finally move in to stable,
affordable homes.

“We’ve been through four town councils,” Kubista said. “We’ve
processed more than a thousand people over the years and more thousands
attended information sessions.”

She wanted the project for her children, who are now living on
their own. One is in a PAH unit in another complex and another is on a
waiting list. “There’s been a lot of people in and out,” said Nicole
Tremblay, Mountain Haven Cooperative Homes board member.

“When we got new funding in 2006, our (income limits) went down and we lost most of the board members.”

Income limits are set by those who give grants to make the dream
of affordable housing a reality. PAH’s top income is $88,800 and
applies to some units, Tremblay said. Qualifying incomes for other
units are capped at $30,000 for a one bedroom up to $53,000 for a three
bedroom.

The stacked townhomes were built in Edmonton, transported to
Canmore’s Three Sisters Village and completed on site. Prices are set
by the construction cost and range from $167,000 to $235,000. A dozen
units are rental and 31 are owned.

MHCH members buy a share for $5,000, which they
recoup when they sell. They must sell back to the coop, which puts the
unit back in the rental pool to keep it affordable, a requirement
overlooked in other affordable housing projects which saw prices rise
to market values on resales, said Tremblay, a glass blower who joined
the coop when she moved back to Canmore four years ago.

“We have a restrictive resale cap, so the most we can sell for
is 90 percent of market value. They are quite a bit below that now.”

The complex is on land leased from the Town of Canmore in the Three Sisters Mountain Village on the sunny side of the mountain.

“It sits in a really sunny area,” said Tremblay, who will be
one of the first six members to move in August 23. “There are seven
buildings which climb up the mountainside. We are moving into block one
this week, the top building, and block four will be filled by September
1. We’re going from highest to lowest.”

All should be occupied by the end of October, she said.

Members include teachers, mountain guides, health care workers,
entrepreneurs and tradespeople, 43 of them moving into stable,
affordable housing for full time residents of the Bow Valley.

Included in the design are environmental and sustainable features for the 700- to 1,500-sq. ft. homes.

There is a waiting list for the rent-to-own non-equity units, but equity townhomes are available. What is lacking now is time.

“We do have lives,” said Kubista who works at the Canmore
Hospital and described the effort as a ‘David and Goliath’ story, “we’d
like to get them back, so we will have interviews for prospective
members starting after we move in. Everyone is stoked to get in the
Coop.”