Trudeau calls on municipalities to ‘step-up’ on housing plans

Click to play video: 'Reality-checking feds’ housing announcement amid crisis'
Reality-checking feds’ housing announcement amid crisis
WATCH: The federal government is hyping up its "landmark" $74 million deal to build homes in London, Ont., but as it turns out, the impact seems minor. Mackenzie Gray explains – Sep 13, 2023

London Ont., will be the first recipient of money from the federal government’s $4-billion Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF).

The city is receiving $74 million from the fund to build 2,000 housing units over the next three years, Housing Minister Sean Fraser and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announced in London Wednesday.

The fund, first introduced in the last federal budget, is aimed at helping municipalities build more homes through measures like speeding up the approval of building permits and changing zoning regulations.

Trudeau said Wednesday London’s approach is “absolutely visionary” and encouraged other cities to step up with their plans. This includes creating a digital system to speed up building permits.

Click to play video: '‘Right time’ to remove federal GST on apartment construction, Trudeau says, 8 years after commitment'
‘Right time’ to remove federal GST on apartment construction, Trudeau says, 8 years after commitment
“So based on [London Mayor Josh Morgan]’s success and the announcement we’re making right now, I want to challenge other mayors right across the country to step up with their proposals too,” Trudeau said.
Story continues below advertisement

The Housing Accelerator Fund application window for municipalities with more than 10,000 people closed on August 18.

Earlier on Wednesday, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a new report, projecting a 3.5-million home supply gap if home-building remains “business as usual” between now and 2030.

When asked about this report, both Trudeau and Fraser pointed to programs like the Rapid Housing Initiative and said they would have more to announce in the coming days.

While Fraser said there are a wide variety of factors for why home prices are rapidly increasing, he singled out municipal zoning policies, specifically around densification and building near transit hubs.

Click to play video: 'Liberal caucus gathers as party slumps in the polls'
Liberal caucus gathers as party slumps in the polls

The minister said these are points he brought to Mayor Morgan when going over London’s accelerator application.

Story continues below advertisement

“You can do more to legalize housing. Because communities across this country in many instances make it illegal to build the kinds of homes that will solve the housing crisis,” Fraser said.

Fraser added that he encouraged London to amend bylaws to allow for a builder to erect four units on a piece of land in order to increase housing supply.

Amid higher interest rates, housing is expected to be one of the main issues facing parliamentarians as they return to Ottawa on Monday.

Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives saw a major surge in support according to several pollsters this summer. Much of this has been attributed to a focus on housing and the cost of living crisis in Conservative messaging.

Click to play video: 'Liberals ‘not in a good place’ as caucus meets to discuss plans'
Liberals ‘not in a good place’ as caucus meets to discuss plans

Prior to the announcement, Fraser told reporters at the Liberal caucus convention Wednesday morning that the government will be looking at further strategies to help ease Canada’s housing crunch.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re going to need to advance measures that are going to help change the financial equation for builders who are dealing with a lot of projects that are actually approved but then put on pause because of a higher interest rate environment,” Fraser said.

“And by investing in innovation like building homes and factories so we can actually be more productive with the assets that we have,” he continued.

The minister added building a larger home construction workforce is also a priority, with training more Canadians in building trades and recruiting immigrants with relevant skills.

He also stressed that there is no single, silver bullet solution to the current housing crisis but added it will take collaboration with all levels of government, the non-profit and private sectors.

Click to play video: 'Poilievre focused on reversing ‘housing hell’ and carbon pricing ahead of parliament’s return'
Poilievre focused on reversing ‘housing hell’ and carbon pricing ahead of parliament’s return


Story continues below advertisement

As for how whether or not the government wants to see record high home prices decline, the prime minister did not answer directly.

“One of the things we know is that house pricing cannot continue to go up,” Trudeau said.

“That’s a problem of supply. We as a country are not building enough housing quickly.”

With Liberal popularity on the decline, Fraser said he doesn’t believe it’s too late to change course on housing.

“[Canadians] should expect to see a renewed focus that’s looking to build homes not just for low-income Canadians in affordable housing projects, but across the housing spectrum to make sure we’re doing that for middle-class folks,” Fraser said.


Sponsored content