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Alberta

Drayton Valley residents returning home as evacuation order is lifted

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Update 13: Alberta wildfire situation (May 16, 5:30 p.m.)

The evacuation order has been lifted for the Town of Drayton Valley and parts of Brazeau County. Re-entry began at 2 p.m.

Those evacuated due to wildfires should register at local reception centres or at emergencyregistration.alberta.ca.

Current situation

  • Alberta has declared a provincial state of emergency. Visit alberta.ca/emergency for information or call 310-4455, now available 24-7.
  • The fire danger is extreme in northern Alberta with temperatures expected to increase again toward the end of this week. A moderate to high fire rating remains for the Rockies.
  • Current wildfire information is available on the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard.
  • A fire ban and an off-highway vehicle restriction are in place across the Forest Protection Area.
  • Parts of Alberta are experiencing moderate to high-risk smoky conditions.
    • Learn more about the potential affects of wildfire smoke on your health.
    • Wildfire smoke can travel long distances.
    • Visit firesmoke.ca to see where the smoke affecting your area is coming from.
  • Evacuation orders: 23
  • Alberta Emergency Alerts: 17 (12 critical alerts, five advisories)
  • Number of evacuees: 19,576
  • Alberta currently has more than 2,500 wildland firefighters, including personnel from partner agencies across Canada and the United States as well as the Canadian Armed Forces, 165 helicopters, 31 fixed-wing aircraft, and heavy equipment responding to wildfires in the province.
  • An additional 61 personnel are arriving today from Ontario, with 21 expected to arrive from New Brunswick tomorrow.

New information

  • A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the town of Swan Hills at 1:15 p.m.
  • The evacuation order has been lifted for the town of Drayton Valley and parts of Brazeau County.
  • Re-entry operations for the town of Drayton Valley began at 2 p.m. today.
  • Local municipalities, First Nations and Metis Settlements may require financial assistance to compensate volunteer firefighters who may not be able to leave their regular jobs in order to join or continue firefighting efforts. Alberta’s government is providing additional support for local firefighting costs to help strengthen the province’s response capacity, improve public safety and assist communities during an unprecedented wildfire season.

Support for evacuees

  • Since the announcement of one-time emergency financial assistance for evacuees, more than 10,400 applications have been processed.
  • More than $15.8 million in e-transfers has been sent to evacuees.
  • More than $3.3 million in debit cards has been distributed.
  • Debit cards are available for evacuees unable to receive an e-transfer at 16 Alberta Supports Centre locations with extended hours and at Edmonton and Calgary evacuation centres.

Donations

  • Albertans who wish to help can make cash donations through the Canadian Red Cross or within their regions to a recognized charitable organization of their choice.
  • The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta will each match every dollar donated to the Canadian Red Cross 2023 Alberta Fires Appeal. This means that every $1 donated will become $3 to support those affected by the wildfires.
  • Individuals and companies with goods or services to offer or donate to support the government’s response to the wildfire can email [email protected].ca.

For more information on the emergency and supports for evacuees, go to alberta.ca/emergency.

Alberta

Hot rental market makes search ‘stressful’ for many ā€” and it won’t get better soon

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Marissa Giesinger is pictured in Calgary, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. On the hunt for a rental home in Calgary over the last six weeks, Giesinger and her boyfriend trawled through listings morning, noon and night, only to find most come along with dozens of applications and a steep price tag. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

By Tara Deschamps in Toronto

On the hunt for a rental home in Calgary over the last six weeks, Marissa Giesinger and her boyfriend trawled through listings morning, noon and night, only to find most come along with dozens of applications and a steep price tag. As an added difficulty, many landlords are unwelcoming to the couple’s brood — dogs Kado and Rosco and a cat named Jester.

“We made the tough decision recently to house our dogs with someone else until we can find a place that’s affordable and we can take both of them,” said Giesinger, a 23-year-old Mount Royal University student.

“It’s definitely been stressful.”

The competitive rental market Giesinger has encountered in Calgary is being seen across the country as multiple factors combine: high interest rates deter buyers and add to rental demand, still-high inflation is squeezing renter budgets, there’s an undersupply of purpose-built rental units and population growth is fuelling demand.

These conditions have left prospective renters feeling even more frustrated than usual by sky-high rents, the frenzy of interest that surrounds any affordable listing and the litany of demands landlords can make when so many people are interested in their home.

Giacomo Ladas, communications director for Rentals.ca, calls it “almost a perfect storm” — and it isn’t likely to ease up any time soon.

“What this does is create such a burden on this rental housing market that even though we’re out of the (busy) summer rental season, there’s so much demand that (these conditions are) going to continue like this until the fall and into the winter,” he said.

Data crunched by his organization and research firm Urbanation.ca shows average asking rents for newly-listed units in Canada increased 1.8 per cent between July and August and 9.6 per cent from a year earlier to reach a record high of $2,117 last month.

Between May and August, asking rents in Canada increased by 5.1 per cent or an average of $103 per month.

When Giesinger rented a two-bedroom basement unit with a roommate a few years ago, the duo paid $1,000 per month, but now she routinely spots “super tiny,” one-bedroom places for $1,350 a month.

“If you want a basement suite or an apartment, you’re looking at minimum $1,200 and that doesn’t include any utilities or anything like that unless it’s a super rare listing,” Giesinger said.

Rentals.ca data show newly listed one-bedroom properties in Calgary priced at an average $1,728 per month in August, up 21.6 per cent from a year earlier. Two-bedroom homes have climbed 17.4 per cent to $2,150 over the same period.

The picture in Vancouver and Toronto is far bleaker. Rentals.ca found the cities had the highest rents in the country.

Newly-listed one-bedroom properties in Vancouver averaged $2,988 in August, up 13.1 per cent from a year earlier, while two-bedroom units hit $3,879, an almost 10 per cent increase year-over-year.

Newly-listed Toronto one-bedroom homes averaged $2,620 in August, up almost 11 per cent from the year before, while two-bedroom properties had a 7.1 per cent rise over the same time frame to $3,413.

It’s numbers like these that have convinced Kanishka Punjabi to abandon her hopes of moving in the near term.

“Two days ago, I gave up on my search because the rental market is that bad,” she said.

The public relations worker has been living in Mississauga, Ont., but felt it was time to find a home in downtown or midtown Toronto, closer to where she works.

However, few of the two-bedroom homes she spotted in her two-month search were within her $2,800 budget.

For example, one apartment she liked at the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton streets had 25 offers in just over a week.

“Some people actually just sent in their offer without looking at the apartment too because there are so many people who are in desperate need of rental units,” said Punjabi. “There’s just not enough.”

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has projected that the country needs to build 3.5 million additional homes beyond what’s planned before the market reaches some semblance of affordability.

It also calculated that the annual pace of housing starts — when construction begins on a home — edged down one per cent in August to 252,787 units compared with 255,232 in July.

Despite the nudge down, Rishi Sondhi, an economist with TD Bank Group, said it has been a strong year for starts because the industry is responding to elevated prices by building at a robust pace.

But between population growth and rising interest rates, he said, “supply is struggling to keep up with demand” and that’s bound to weigh on renters for quite some time.

“In the short term, it would be unrealistic to expect too much of a reprieve simply because population growth is likely to remain strong through the duration of this year — and that’s really one of the big fundamental drivers,” he said.

“In addition, it’s unlikely to expect affordability in the ownership market to improve too much either because we think the Bank of Canada (key rate) is going to be on hold for the remainder of the year, but there is some risk that they take rates even higher, especially if inflation doesn’t co-operate.”

For renters like Giesinger that message puts even more pressure on her to settle on a place soon.

“Now I’m scrambling to find the money for a deposit and we’re still never really sure like what kind of place we’re going to get,” she said.

“And when you’re battling dozens of other people for a rental it can be super stressful.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2023.

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Alberta

UCP asks Albertans to consider an Alberta Pension Plan

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News release from the United Conservative party

The Government of Alberta is starting a public engagement to discuss the possibility of creating an Alberta Pension Plan.
You might be wondering, what’s in it for you? Learn more by watching the short video below:

The government is eager to hear your views. To find more information, and participate in a survey, tap the button below.

FIND OUT MORE

Albertans deserve a pension plan that reflects their hard work and earnings, and it is up to Albertans to decide which pension plan that is.
-Your UCP Team

TAKE THE SURVEY

 

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