More than a hundred Calgarians will voice their opinions on the city’s housing strategy on Thursday, as a proposed plan to create more housing and improve affordability hangs in the balance.
And a federal minister says funding for new housing also depends on what the council committee decides.
The committee will spend two days considering recommendations made in the city’s proposed housing strategy and gathering input from more than 100 people who have registered to speak at the hearing.
As we begin deliberations on how best to address Calgary’s housing crisis, #yyccc just received this letter of support from the federal housing minister @SeanFraserMP: We will jeopardize or lose federal funds if we do not approve the full strategy. We must act now. pic.twitter.com/PRVDWOPPfV
In a social media post Thursday, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek shared a letter from Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser that said if the city does not legalize the missing new medium zoning designations, his Housing Accelerator Fund application will not be accepted. approved.
“[I]To receive a positive decision from me on your application, you must end exclusionary zoning in your city,” the letter states.
Missing middle housing is a term that often refers to buildings such as mid-rise apartments, duplexes and townhomes, which can increase density. Changes related to the rezoning would redesignate portions of land to allow for those types of buildings.
Gondek did not confirm how much that funding amounts to, as it is still confidential, but added that “there is a lot of money at stake here.”
“Millions,” he said.
Fraser’s call echoes that of federal Conservatives, including party leader Pierre Poilievre, who want local politicians to remove barriers to building more housing.
District 1 County. Sonya Sharp said it is unfortunate to see the federal minister “offer” them funds on the day public discussions begin.
The City of Calgary Housing Strategy, if approved, would dictate the city’s strategy from 2024 to 2030.
Speaking at Thursday’s public consultation, Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, said she supports the city’s proposed strategy.
“Affordable housing provides tangible and intangible benefits to the city and the people who live here. From a business standpoint, increasing the diversity of housing available in Calgary will make us a more competitive jurisdiction and this is critical in the race for talent and investment.,” she said.
“I will add that affordable housing strengthens the productivity of our workforce, something we desperately need. When someone has a place to live, they are less stressed about their housing, which improves the individual’s physical and mental health and allows them to fully participate in work place.”
Kelly Ernst, program director for the Newcomers Center, urged the city to act quickly to address the need for affordable housing.
SEE | District 11 County. Kourtney Penner chairs the committee that will listen to the public
“Five years ago no one showed up with suitcases at the center for new arrivals. Now we see it regularly. Even this week, families show up with their suitcases at our center saying: ‘I have lost my home or I have arrived and I have nowhere to stay ‘”, said.
Frano Cavar, director of government relations for the Calgary Building Association, said that as a 28-year-old, the prospect of affording a home is increasingly difficult for many of his generation.
He added that he believes the city needs to do more to address what he says is a huge shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry.
“Land use policies can be changed… but what happens when you don’t have the workers to build the housing infrastructure you need? Costs rise, projects are delayed, and affordability stagnates,” said.
Count. Sharp said he believes the strategy lacks accountability.
“I feel like there’s a little bit of that missing from this document and we want to make sure that we’re really putting our money where our mouth is and walking the walk,” he said.
The discussions arrive on the same day Poilievre launched its housing planwhich he said would accelerate new housing construction in Canada as the country faces a severe shortage of affordable places to live.
Poilievre mocked the accelerator fund, saying it “sounds like a decelerator fund,” because the program was announced in the 2022 budget, but the first funding commitment wasn’t made until about 18 months later, on Wednesday, in London, Ont.
Calgary public hearings are expected to continue until Friday. The committee will make a recommendation for consideration by the city council at a special meeting Saturday afternoon.
If the strategy is approved, it means actions will begin that will not require further council direction or budget approval. Other actions will require public participation and council deliberation before they take effect.