Construction problems cause 'frustrating' delay of new affordable housing development

An affordable housing project in southwest Calgary may look like it's ready for its first tenants to move in, but extensive damage on the inside means the development won't be turned over to the city's housing agency until possibly September.

Councillor says Clarke Court in southwest Calgary should have opened last winter

Clarke Court, an affordable housing project in southwest Calgary, was originally scheduled to open in December 2016, but an improperly installed heating system means the complex likely won't be ready until September. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

An affordable housing project in southwest Calgary may look like it's ready for the first tenants to move in.

But extensive damage on the inside means the development likely won't be turned over to the city's housing agency until at least September.

Clarke Court in Kingsland was budgeted to cost $7.1 million and was scheduled to open in December 2016.  

It was funded by the city, as well as the provincial and federal governments.

The 32 units in the two buildings include studio apartments as well as one, two and three-bedroom units.  

The project also includes a handful of fully accessible units for disabled tenants.

Coun. Brian Pincott, who is the chair of the Calgary Housing Company, said the problem lies in the heating system, which was improperly installed. They are waiting for it to be repaired.

Delay 'super frustrating'

Further complicating matters is an ongoing dispute between the contractor hired for the project and a sub-contractor.

Pincott said it all adds up to a lengthy delay in the opening the buildings, which he calls "super frustrating."

"There was damage caused to the building as a result of the failure of the heating system and then you get into the contractor and sub-contractor issue and how all of that gets worked out, responsibility and things like that," said Pincott.

The Calgary Housing Company, which is the city agency that will manage the building, has approximately 4,000 people on its waiting lists for affordable housing.

Clarke Court is a mixed-income development — meaning there will be some deeply subsidized units, subsidized units and some priced just under current market rents.

"We're working and pushing as hard as we can to get it open as quickly as we can," said Pincott.

However, he adds, the problems surrounding the project may be subject to litigation.

Budget unaffected

Teresa Goldstein, the manager of affordable housing for the City of Calgary, said the current estimate for Clarke Court's opening is September.

She said a number of deficiencies must be repaired but there aren't many details.

"We've working with the contractor to make sure that everything is up to standard for Calgary Housing Company to take over and maintain and operate that building."

The construction delays are not expected to boost the cost of Clarke Court though. 

"At this time, the completion of the development has not increased the budget and the total budget still remains the same," said Goldstein.