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Feds earmark hundreds of millions to address Calgary housing crisis

The federal government provided a massive boost to Calgary’s housing situation with a nearly quarter-billion-dollar injection of funds for Calgary.

Canada’s Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, MP Sean Fraser, along with Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal, were at Calgary city hall on Nov. 14, to announce $228 million over three years to build more than 6,800 new homes.

It’s part of an agreement under the Government of Canada’s Housing Accelerator Fund, a $ 4 billion dollar fund that runs through 2026-2027, that aims to have 100,000 additional homes built across Canada.

“The announcement of $228 million for housing in Calgary is a testament to the commitment of the federal government as well as the commitment of this city council to ensure that we are taking steps to provide housing for all Calgarians the ability to live with dignity, the security of having a home that becomes the foundation from which anything else is possible,” said Mayor Gondek.

Many Canadians and newcomers are struggling with a lack of accommodation whether they are renting or paying a mortgage. The struggle doesn’t discriminate against where you were born, the size of your family or your profession, the mayor said.  

“This crisis will continue to worsen without meaningful interventions and investments by governments,” said Mayor Gondek. 

Minister Fraser said the work that Calgary has done in recent weeks on its housing strategy helped move this agreement over the finish line.

“It’s not the number of dollars that we invest. It’s the number of homes that are going to be built that we expect to see as a result of the reforms that Calgary is launching and going to use these funds towards is nearly 7,000 new homes by 2027,” said Minister Fraser.

Money to come as Calgary meets housing milestones: Minister

Minister Fraser said that Calgary would receive an upfront 25 per cent from the federal government to begin work right away. The rest of the $228 million would come as the city meets certain milestones that it has agreed to.

“I don’t have concerns if they’re not going to be able to meet the milestones, but for the sake of clarity, it’s a 25 per cent upfront payment with the same value each of the three years that follows, provided the milestones are met,” he said.

There are some aspects of Calgary’s housing strategy that hadn’t yet been decided when Minister Fraser sent a letter to Calgary city council, expressing concern about funding requests he couldn’t fulfill unless those items moved forward. While the strategy itself was wholly approved, parts of the document must still go through a public hearing and voted on by Calgary city council.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said that Tuesday’s announcement was a good one, especially with another order of government stepping to the table to help with housing. She wasn’t concerned about the city being able to meet certain conditions.

“I don’t foresee all sudden us not meeting some timelines and they’re pulling funding,” she said.

“He also was very open to making sure that what was announced is going to be all transparent. That’s really important too, so that members of council understand what our goals are, as we move forward on being able to build more homes for Calgarians.”

When asked, the mayor suggested that the recently paused downtown conversion incentive could use a bit of a boost given that funding has been exhausted. Sharp said that’s one potential option, but she cautioned against filling the downtown with thousands more people before making sure that there was enough amenities in the area.