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Alberta Rural Development Network proposes using shipping containers for affordable housing

Fort Macleod is one of five rural communities working with the Alberta Rural Development Network as part of a strategy to build affordable housing for low-income and homeless citizens.
The housing will be produced sustainably, with a primary focus on re-purposing steel shipping containers.
“Using shipping containers is a highly effective way to create housing in rural communities, while providing the best value for the money spent,” said Joshua Benard, project manager for the Sustainable Housing Initiative at the Alberta Rural Development Network. “Shipping containers are well suited for projects like these — they’re modular so they can be shipped anywhere easily and they’re designed so they won’t mold or rot.”
Fort Macleod, Banff, Lac La Biche, Boyle and Sexsmith have each received funding from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Organizations in each town are using the money to begin the process of implementing affordable housing.
Additional support for the project comes from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, which has awarded $25,000 to the Alberta Rural Development Network.
“The Sustainable Housing Initiative’s unique creation of environmentally friendly housing that’s focused specifically on improving accessibility in rural areas is directly in line with our organization’s mandate,” said Charlie Ponde, chairman of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s board of governors. “We are pleased to lend our support to this worthwhile endeavour.”
The Alberta Rural Development Network is working with the five organizations to gather local data, develop documentation such as needs assessments and business plans, organize consultations, and create awareness.
Each community organization is also contributing both staff time and funding for the initiative.
“The need for affordable housing in rural Alberta is as urgent as it is in cities,” Bernard said. “When people can’t find a place to live in rural communities, they often migrate to cities and may end up on the streets there, adding to the stress on urban support networks. The issue of rural homelessness is not wholly rural — it affects all Albertans.”
The Alberta Rural Development Network is a not-for-profit partnership of nine Alberta colleges and universities working together to enhance the quality of life in rural Alberta through research and learning. Visit to learn more.

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