Calgary gets federal Housing Accelerator Fund approval

Cash is coming our way to build more affordable housing, as the federal government approves the Housing Accelerator Fund for Calgary. Henna Saeed finds out the details.

Cash is coming to build more affordable housing in Calgary.

A letter from federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser confirms the city was successful in its application to the federal housing accelerator fund.

It comes as Calgary approved the affordable housing strategy last week after council heard the voices of over 150 people over the span of three days. The amended strategy is meant to increase market and non-market supply in Calgary, making it easier to create affordable housing projects, all by cutting back on residential zoning restrictions.

“Now the federal government has said, ‘We liked that strategy. We’ll help you fund it.’ And so all in all, it’s been a good week,” said Elizabeth McLennan, acting chair of the Calgary Alliance for Common Good.

The Housing Accelerator Fund is a $4-billion program first announced in the spring 2022 federal budget, but applications weren’t accepted until July 2023. London, Ont, was the first city in the country to sign a deal under the fund.

Watch: $47m to build 2000 homes

Bernadette Majdell, the CEO of HomeSpace, tells CityNews she is hopeful that a portion of the funds will be allocated to affordable housing.

“But even if it’s allocated just to increasing the housing stock, it should take some of the pressure off what’s in the market already,” she said.

“It’s good news regardless of how it’s targeted because the reality in Calgary is that we need more housing at different levels.”

Previously, Minister Fraser warned Mayor Jyoti Gondek that Calgary’s application wouldn’t be supported if aspects of the housing strategy around zoning weren’t approved.

He said the fund would not be approved unless the city creates a new missing middle zoning designation of H-GO and R-CG, as Fraser says is stated in the city’s application.

“Otherwise said, in order to receive a positive decision from me on your application — must end exclusionary zoning in your city,” his letter to Mayor Jyoti Gondek that she released on X reads.

“There are members in your community, and elected leaders in your community, that may try to dissuade you from doing the right thing, in pursuit of what is easy. These kinds of attitudes are a major reason why we are living in a national housing crisis. These attitudes help explain why so many Canadians cannot afford the cost of a home in the community where they work, study, and live.

“We will never solve the housing crisis in Calgary if it is not legal to build the home required to meet the moment.”

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McLennan says it’s not ideal to have any “string attached,” but says if she was in the federal government, she would ask the city to meet its standards.

“And we still have a way to go with actually changing that zoning. The hearings to actually change that rezoning bylaw will start next year,” McLennan said.

CityNews reached out to the City of Calgary for a response and it says, “We do not have any details, we are able to share at this time, as we are still awaiting more information. When we do we will be able to share more.”

Minister Fraser says in his letter that a representative from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation will be in touch with the City for additional details about the agreement and the next steps to host a formal announcement. No date for this has been announced

“Name of the fund is the accelerator fund, so you announce it and not roll out the money for a while, it kind of makes it interesting from even a name perspective,” Majdell said.

It’s unclear how much funding the city is receiving.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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