Calgary will be the beneficiary of $228 million in funding through the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) after the federal government supported the city’s recently approved housing strategy.
The announcement was made Tuesday by Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser, Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal and Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
“This is a major, major advance in housing policy in the City of Calgary,” Fraser told reporters. “I would dare say it sets an example for the rest of the country to follow.”
The funding is set to fast-track the construction of more than 6,800 housing units over the next three years, and fund initiatives to spur the construction of upwards of 35,000 new homes over the next decade.
According to the federal government, the money is to fund several initiatives like accelerated approvals, zoning reform to build more rowhouses, townhouses and infill housing, and to develop more affordable housing.
Gondek said the city is aligned on those initiatives, and laid out several possibilities for the funding to help bolster the city’s housing stock; including a continuation of the city’s downtown office-to-residential conversion program.
“We will make sure a portion of this funding goes towards ensuring there are more homes available downtown, and more homes that are affordable for folks,” Gondek said. “We will continue to be active in making sure housing is available along major transit lines; we are incredibly interested in ensuring that safe secondary suite opportunities exist for people within our city.”
The mayor noted the city must begin fast-tracking applications that are bringing forward “sound projects” to build more housing.
The announcement comes just two months after city council approved a strategy to increase the city’s housing supply through a series of nearly 80 recommendations and actions for the city to take in the short, medium and long term.
Titled “Home is Here”, the strategy sets a target to build 3,000 new affordable housing units annually, and 1,000 more market homes than are currently built every year.
“(The funding) is recognition from the federal government that what we have in place, the plans that we have, are solid,” Gondek said. “They’ve given us this additional amount to ensure that we’re delivering more homes.”
The funding, the largest offering from the HAF to date, will see Calgary provided with an initial $57 million as well as an additional $57 million each year for the next three years.
However, the city will be required to meet a set of conditions and milestones to receive the full amount from the HAF; Fraser did not announce what those milestones are.
“Given our assessment of the estimated impact of the initiatives the City of Calgary has indicated it will move forward with, I don’t have concerns that they’re not going to be able to meet those milestones,” Fraser said.
Although the city’s housing strategy was approved, there are still several pieces of the plan that will require some key decisions in the coming months; including a contentious recommendation to change the city’s base residential zoning to allow for more density like rowhouses.
Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said she welcomes the federal funding, and noted she doesn’t have many concerns about the milestones that need to be achieved.
“There are things that still need to cross budget next week and there’s still a public hearing on blanket upzoning,” Sharp said. “Hopefully there’s no more strings attached… We’re meeting their timeline of 2027 and we will do our best as a city and as a council to make sure that we put more roofs and homes for Calgarians to the forefront.”
Premier Danielle Smith, whose government was not part of the funding agreement, issued the following statement to Global News regarding the federal funding for Calgary.
“Alberta’s government welcomes this investment of $228 million to the City of Calgary,” said Smith. “Work is underway to review Quebec law, Bill M-30, which requires the federal government to negotiate and cooperate with the province on delivering funding for cities in line with provincial priorities and programs. This arrangement doesn’t seem to be hurting Quebec’s ability to secure federal investment dollars for their cities – surely minister Chrystia Freeland isn’t saying that provinces asking for the constitution to be respected should be penalized.
“Our province already leads the country in reducing red tape for residential construction and has the fewest regulatory delays and barriers to housing in the country. We have made dozens of meaningful changes to increase transparency, reduce timelines, and make more building styles available. We are focused on creating an environment where homes can be built quickly for those who need them.”
Calgary is the eighth city to receive HAF funding so far.