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Canada to launch $6B housing infrastructure fund, will need provincial buy-in

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The federal government is launching a new $6 billion “Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund” meant to speed up construction and upgrade key components needed to support building more homes such as waste and water infrastructure.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the funding on Tuesday, alongside Housing Minister Sean Fraser in Dartmouth – to the sound of protesters chanting in the background – as the Liberals’ pre-budget spending pledge tour continues. 


According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the fund will include $1 billion for “urgent infrastructure needs” such as improving wastewater, stormwater, and solid waste systems.


The remaining $5 billion will be set aside for the yet-to-be-negotiated agreements with provinces and territories.


The federal government will require provinces and territories to commit to a series of actions meant to increase Canada’s housing supply in order to access this funding.


Among the requirements:


  • Municipalities have to allow more “missing middle” homes such as duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses;

  • A three-year freeze will have to be implemented on increasing development charges for municipalities with populations larger than 300,000;

  • Incoming changes to the National Building Code aimed at supporting more accessible, affordable, and environmentally-friendly housing options will have to be adopted; and

  • “As-of-right” construction related to the previously-pledged federal housing design catalogue needs to be permitted. 


As for the timing of this new funding, provinces will have until Jan. 1, 2025 to secure a deal with the federal government, while territories will have until April 1, 2025.


“If a province or territory does not secure an agreement by their respective deadline, their funding allocation will be transferred to the municipal stream,” reads the PMO release accompanying Trudeau’s announcement.


Beyond this new fund, Trudeau is also committing to top-up the existing $4 billion “Housing Accelerator Fund” with an additional $400 million which the federal Liberals say will allow more municipalities to get in on the initiative meant to reduce red tape and speed up new construction.


To date, nearly 180 agreements have been signed across Canada to fast-track more than 750,000 new homes. The Liberals estimate the added funding will help speed up the construction of 12,000 new homes over the next three years.


Trudeau is also giving municipalities a head’s up that, in order to access long-term public transit money through a forthcoming new fund, they will have to “take action that will directly unlock housing supply.”


Specifically, municipalities are being told to:


  • Eradicate mandatory minimum parking requirements within 800 metres of a high-frequency transit line and allow high-density housing in this space instead;

  • Allow high-density housing within 800 metres of post-secondary schools; and

  • Complete a “housing needs assessment” for all communities with a population greater than 30,000.


The minority Liberals have been making housing affordability a key focus of their targeted spending plans over the last year, amid an ongoing housing crunch and heightened political pressure to address the issue.


Housing, including assistance for renters and younger Canadians trying to enter the marker, is expected to once again be a core element of the April 16 federal budget, which Trudeau and his team have been trying to frame as focused on “fairness.” 


More coming… 

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