The federal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has inked a $59 million deal with the city of Vaughan, Ont., aiming to fast-track the construction of more than 1,700 new housing units. This arrangement is in line with Trudeau’s objective to stimulate housing construction across Canada, especially in areas that will boost high-density developments near public transportation networks.
“This is going to be really powerful here in Vaughan, but we also need to see this kind of thinking, this kind of leadership, right across the country,” said Trudeau. He further commented on the significance of the program, emphasizing the broader commitment to augment housing infrastructure near transit hubs, including GO train and subway stations.
Vaughan’s Mayor, Steven Del Duca, echoed Trudeau’s sentiments, stating the announcement was “phenomenal” for Vaughan’s residents. “Thank you so much for making this investment in our city… to help make sure that we have more affordable and accessible housing options for the people that call this incredible community home,” Del Duca remarked. He later expanded on the benefits, noting, “This will literally mean that our extraordinary team at Vaughan can help improve our system [and] deal with applications quicker and more seamlessly.”
The investment forms part of the Housing Accelerator Fund, a $4-billion initiative introduced in the 2022 federal budget. Its primary objective is to fast-track homebuilding nationwide by refining land-use planning and development approvals. Trudeau hopes to see the construction of an additional 100,000 units nationwide through this fund.
Only municipalities with populations surpassing 10,000 can seek access to the fund. They must present plans to elevate their annual homebuilding rates by a minimum of 10%. Last month, London, Ont. was the first city to sign a deal, receiving $74 million to facilitate the building of 2,000 homes in three years.
A significant aspect of the Vaughan deal is the emphasis on eradicating “outdated permitting systems” and the introduction of a new zoning bylaw, allowing up to four residential units on a single lot. Trudeau highlighted the broader national perspective, stating that the government had been investing in a national housing strategy delivering homes for two million Canadian families over the years.
However, he recognized that more work lay ahead, especially in areas where housing demand exceeds construction. Trudeau said, “We have been investing over the past many years in a national housing strategy that has delivered homes for two million Canadian families, but there’s lots more to do.” A recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation report indicated that construction growth was primarily concentrated in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, while other areas saw a decrease.
While the deal is a monumental step in addressing Canada’s housing needs, Trudeau emphasized that his government is moving “as quickly as possible” to bring about further change, even as they face obstacles in the House of Commons.