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Ottawa receives $176 million in federal funding for housing

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The city of Ottawa will receive $176 million in new federal funding to help build much-needed housing in the capital.

The funding under the federal Housing Accelerator Fund sees the city of Ottawa commit to nine initiatives to deliver up to 4,450 new homes over the next three years, including allowing fourplexes on lots as part of the Zoning Bylaw review and pre-zoning additional density around transit stations, main streets and major and minor corridors.

Federal ministers joined Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and councillors to announce the funding on Monday morning.

"It might be -10, but to me it feels like plus 176.3 million right now," Sutcliffe joked. "This announcement is a down payment, a huge down payment. It's a down payment on building more affordable housing in our community, it's a down payment on building more homes throughout the city, it's a down payment on getting things built faster."

Under the Housing Accelerator Fund, the government says the funding will help "eliminate barriers to building the housing we need, faster." The federal announcement says the funding will allow for more housing options in Ottawa, including more rental, affordable and missing middle-housing, with up to four units as-of-right through the comprehensive Bylaw Review process.

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jenna Sudds told reporters the funding will spur the construction of 32,600 new homes over 10 years.

"This current housing market has been out of reach and unaffordable for many Canadians for too long," Sudds said. "But these new houses that this money will help build will be affordable."

Federal MPs and Ottawa councillors gather to announce $176 million in federal funding for housing in Ottawa. (Ryan Arden/CTV News Ottawa)

Sutcliffe concedes the new funding, "won't solve the housing crisis on its own."

"But it is a giant leap forward for our city and allows Ottawa to take bold and immediate actions to mitigate the housing crisis, build more homes and build faster. This is nothing short of excellent news for our city."

In November, council directed staff to explore allowing four residential units on property lots as part of the Zoning Bylaw review.  Sutcliffe said staff will report back to committee and council this summer, and is expected to be passed in 2025.

The funding was announced the same day the city of Ottawa reported a 39.2 per cent drop in housing starts in the third quarter of 2023. There were 2,797 housing starts in the third quarter, down from 4,598 starts in 2022.

The city of Ottawa says the funding under the Housing Accelerator Fund will support nine initiatives in Ottawa, including:

  • Fund and support the construction of non-market affordable housing
  • Expand high-density housing around LRT stations and main steets (pre-zone for additional density)
  • Add new missing-middle housing and expand options within neighbourhoods, such as multiplexes and low-rise apartments
  • Incentivize non-market affordable housing to reduce rents
  • Support the conversion of vacant office space into housing
  • Accelerate the sale and preparation of City-owned lands for housing
  • Streamline planning approvals
  • Deliver the new Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw and Digital Twin Tool
  • Support infrastructure and program service improvements

Sudds says the federal government is looking at using "all the tools at our disposal" to get housing built faster," including streamlining the conversion of vacant office buildings into residential homes.

The Housing Acceleration Fund aims to cut red tape and update local zoning policies. The initiative, overseen by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), has allocated $4 billion across the country to accelerate the construction of 100,000 new homes over the next five years.

The city's application identified nine initiatives, including accelerating the preparation of city-owned lands for housing, streamlining planning approvals and establishing an office-to-residential conversions pilot.

The federal government has already announced funds for other municipalities across the country, including more than $59 million for the city of Vaughn, $74 million for London, Ont. and $471 million for Toronto.

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