July 17th, 2024

City to apply for second round of Housing Accelerator funding

By Collin Gallant on July 10, 2024.

The city will reapply for funds from a federal housing program after Ottawa reopened the Housing Accelerator Funds with $400 million added in the recent federal budget. Pictured, workers in Medicine Hat install roofing on a new home int he Coulee Ridge area of the city in spring of 2021. -- News File Photo

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The City of Medicine Hat will take another shot at federal Housing Accelerator funding that left the city out of previous rounds of the $4-billion program this year.

Medicine Hat and other cities across Canada that didn’t qualify for the original roll-out are now being asked to resubmit for an additional $400 million that was added to the program in the 2024 federal budget.

Ottawa made the announcement this week, and city planning officials told the News that they already have meeting planned with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which administers the program, next week .

“The new process has been refined,” said John Popoff, the head of the planning and development services.

“We’re certainly very interested in another application and we’ll work with them.”

Medicine Hat applied to the program in late 2023, stating nine local initiatives would ease the cost and time of getting new units built.

That included a number of items that were in the city’s existing land-use bylaw or programs already in development, administrators say, that local officials believed jibbed well with the federal goal of increasing housing stock to tackle the issue of affordability.

That including some municipal land acquisition, an offset of some land servicing fees, keeping public-use blue prints on hand for backyard suites.

The city has prioritized adding infill units along existing road and utility systems as a way to avoid adding major costs to link up new subdivisions.

“Urban villages” and commercial corridors were outlined in the 2019 updates to the city’s land-use bylaw.

At the time the original application was declined last March, the city said it would continue with the initiatives, but over time as funding became available.

“These are still city priorities,” Popoff said Tuesday. “They are in the land-use bylaw, but maybe it would take two or three years, whereas (federal grants) would accelerate that.”

Popoff cautioned that new money only represents only one-tenth of the original $4 billion funding envelop, and all cities and towns that were left out of initial grants are being asked to update their proposals.

“They are refining the criteria, so we’ll refine our application and see where we have the best chance (to acquire grants),” he said.

In mid-February, federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser announced nearly $14 million in support for small- to mid-sized cities in Alberta, including $1.6 million for Bow Island and about $500,000 for Duchess along with larger amounts for Banff and Sylvain Lake.

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