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Would You Live in a Former Office Building?

Last month, Ximena González wrote in The Tyee about an ambitious Calgary city plan to subsidize the conversion of six million square feet of vacant office space into residential use.

The move is a response to record-high office vacancy rates, a trend which has spread to Canada’s largest cities. It has been touted as a solution to the affordable housing crisis, providing homes for people to live in while also supporting the economy.

Office conversions could also let people live in areas that have better access to transit and walkability.

But the project has already faced difficulties with funding. And without the right policies and spending, converted offices — with current restricted access to daylight and fresh air — are unlikely to support the health and safety of its residents.

Some research shows that bedrooms with no exterior windows, like some of the conversions in Calgary, can have significant health impacts. Especially for lower-income people who may be more likely to live in these buildings.

“There’s nothing preventing us from doing these office conversions in a way that creates life-supporting habitats that people would love to live in,” Cape Breton University professor Alison Grittner says. “It’s just a question of how we’re doing it, and how much money are we spending on it.”

As the housing crisis across Canada continues to intensify, and more cities seek to follow Calgary’s lead, we want to ask:

Would you live in a former office building?

* Please note that all poll answers will be publicly viewable, but anonymous.

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Please note that Tyee Barometer polls are only intended as a quick and engaging non-scientific snapshot of our readers' opinions on various topics that fit with The Tyee's very broad editorial mandate. They are not intended to be seen as a representative sampling of BC opinion.

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