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Fraser says up-zoning has changed planning landscape

Don Wall
Fraser says up-zoning has changed planning landscape
CMHC FACEBOOK - Sean Fraser, Canada’s minister of housing, infrastructure and communities, addressed delegates at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation conference in Ottawa March 18.

Canada’s minister of housing, infrastructure and communities says the government’s Housing Accelerator Fund has produced a transformation in Canada’s residential zoning regulations in only six months.

The government has signed 179 agreements with municipalities over the past half year for Accelerator Fund money, Fraser told delegates attending a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation conference in Ottawa March 18. That will lead to the creation of more than 750,000 permitted new homes across Canada over the next decade, the ministry forecasts.

“It’s unthinkable to me that in a housing crisis we have made it illegal to build the kinds of homes in most neighbourhoods that are actually going to bring the crisis to an end,” Fraser said, noting the Accelerator Fund has “exceeded my very high expectations.”

“You might have thought six months ago it would have been impossible to have the rapid up-zoning of Canada as a whole but we’re pretty close.”

The application portal for $4-billion fund opened last June and is now closed.

Municipalities were required to prepare an action plan with growth targets and specific plans to speed up housing approvals. Proposed reforms could include increasing density, revising parking requirements or speeding up processes or systems.

London, Ont., for example, developed an action plan to promote high-density development without the need for rezoning (as-of-right zoning), creating a process for the disposal of city-owned land assets for the development of affordable housing as-of-right, and introducing new processes such as case management, e-permitting, and land and building modelling.

The Government of Ontario has established a goal of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031. The federal government has pledged to spend $82 billion on new homes through its National Housing Strategy.

Fraser told the delegates that collaboration among all parties would help get homes built. That would involve innovation in homebuilding, he said.

“It’s not just enough to change how cities get homes built. We need to change how we are building homes,” said Fraser.

“We can’t expect to meet this challenge head-on using the same tactics and technologies we’ve used for decades.

“Factory-built homes, mass timber, panelization, modular homes — we need it all.”

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