Feds to allow construction of over 2,800 homes on surplus properties

The measure would put the government back on track to add 29,200 units by 2029

Feds to allow construction of over 2,800 homes on surplus properties

Canada’s federal government has announced that it will be building more than 2,800 homes on public properties in cities across the country.

This attempt to boost the housing supply served as its latest effort to address the national housing crisis, putting the government on track to building 29,200 homes on public lands by 2029.

Procurement minister Jean-Yves Duclos stated that the Canada Lands Company, a Crown corporation, had set a new target which will include affordable housing amounting to at least 20% of its projects.

“This will mean around 5,300 affordable homes in the next five years, which is twice as many as in the last 30 years,” said Duclos.

Through agreements made with the Developers, Canada Lands was set to unlock 2,800 housing units in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and St. John’s by March 2024. 300 units will be set aside for the sake of affordable housing.

Duclos disclosed that the federal government was considering a mix of strategies for the properties such as either selling or keeping them.

A very short step to ease the growing demand for housing

While Mike Moffat, the senior director of policy and innovation at the Smart Prosperity Institute, noted that the federal government had been taking bolder actions regarding the housing crisis in the past few months, the number of units that will be provided still fell short what was needed to fully address the shortage.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates that an additional 3.5 million homes are needed to be built by 2030 in order to restore housing affordability in the country.

“A few thousand here and there, while they certainly help, are just a very small move in the right direction,” said Moffat.

Housing experts have called upon the government to leverage its real-estate portfolio so that more affordable homes will be built for the sake of Canadians with lower incomes.

Criticisms surrounding the housing crisis

The announcement regarding the promised added housing supply came as Liberals faced a major drop in the polls. The government had also been facing attacks from opposition parties about the current housing affordability crisis.

Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, has long blamed the housing crisis on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and proposed solutions through selling 15% of federal buildings and lands for housing development.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) has also criticized the federal government for its handling of the housing file and called for more investments in affordable housing.

Chrystia Freeland, the finance minister, said that the announcement was the beginning of a more aggressive approach that the federal government was doing in order to utilize public properties. She was also slated to present a fall economic statement with emphasis on housing and affordability in the coming weeks.

As the new measures will take time to show results, Moffat suggested that Liberals ought to focus on other policies that can possibly relieve the affordability crisis such as rent supplements and increases in GST cheques.

"You do need a suite of policies to recognize that we're not going to fix the supply crisis overnight and people are struggling today,” said Moffat.