$115M funding deal could help build 40,000 homes in Vancouver over decade: Trudeau

For young professionals in Vancouver, the lack of suitable housing makes staying in the city a challenge. Photo by High Diver via Flickr Commons.
For young professionals in Vancouver, the lack of suitable housing makes staying in the city a challenge. Photo by High Diver via Flickr Commons.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a $115 million federal funding deal with the City of Vancouver that he said could see more than 40,000 new homes built over the next decade.

Trudeau said the deal would fast-track more than 3,200 new homes over the next three years.

“The deal will mean less red tape, more housing built near transit, more affordable rental housing and more density. Homes in accessible, vibrant communities, the very places people want to live and raise their families,” Trudeau said at a news conference with Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser, Fraser’s provincial counterpart Ravi Kahlon and others.

The announcement came on Friday after the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said housing starts in Canada fell 22 per cent in November, with starts down 39 per cent in Vancouver.

Fraser said of the Vancouver deal that the cash from the government’s Housing Accelerator Fund would cut barriers to building homes and “incentivize changes” at the municipal level.

Trudeau said the Vancouver deal would bring the total number of housing units “unlocked” by the accelerator fund to almost 300,000.

“This is well over the initial 100,000 we’d hoped to unlock when we announced the accelerator fund back in 2022,” Trudeau said at a construction site on Vancouver’s Westside where rental units are being built with the help of low-interest loans from the CMHC.

A news release from Trudeau’s office said Vancouver would streamline rezoning and expand affordable rental programs, and the initiatives would “significantly improve the way housing is built” in the city.

Sim said the deal was not a “symbolic gesture”, but a collective commitment to providing more homes and finding solutions to housing challenges.

He said he and his wife had bought a home 20 years ago in the neighbourhood where the announcement took place, and the homes that once stood on the construction site had accommodated about 30 people in six households.

“We’re gonna see hundreds of people that have homes (here) in the neighbourhood that our family loved,” he said of the project, which the CMHC said involved 118 units.

Sim called the new federal funding “incredibly generous.”

The Opposition Conservatives said in a news release that Trudeau’s Liberal government was “failing to build anywhere near enough homes.”

The Conservatives pointed to the CMHC data, which said the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in November came in at 212,624 units, down from 272,264 in October.

“This massive decline in housing starts means the cost of rent or a mortgage will only go up for Canadians across the country,” the statement said.

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