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'We're in the queue': Windsor waiting for its own HAF announcement

Mayor Drew Dilkens is seen in a city hall board room in Windsor, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. (Ricardo Veneza/CTV News Windsor) Mayor Drew Dilkens is seen in a city hall board room in Windsor, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. (Ricardo Veneza/CTV News Windsor)

The City of Windsor expects a response to its $40 million application to Ottawa’s Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) to come in the fall.

On Wednesday, the federal government officially announced its first recipient of HAF funding was the City of London, awarding $74 million meant to help build 2,000 new homes over the next three years.

“We’re in the queue and looking at what London got, we’re hoping to be successful as well,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

City council approved a proposal to apply to the program on July 10. The formal application was submitted to Ottawa on Aug. 18. Dilkens expects a decision in October or November.

The fund aims to incentivize more densification, affordable housing and mixed-use construction.

Dilkens says the application for $40 million over four years would help the city build more ‘missing middle’ housing and could see additional HAF dollars for specific projects.

According to the mayor, the city is aiming to boost a target of 900 units built per year to 1,300 per year over the next three years.

“We can build more of the missing middle housing which are duplexes and four plexes, multi-family homes; certainly that would help raise the number [of housing units] and the more affordable and attainable those units are, the more money we get from that fund as well,” said Dilkens.

The Trudeau government has made successive housing announcements this week — the first on Wednesday to announce HAF funding and the second on Thursday to announce a long-pledged tax break for developers.

The prime minister revealed the five per cent GST would be removed from the construction of new rental units — another area of housing severely understocked in Windsor.

The move is the latest in a series of governmental policy changes aimed at easing the housing crunch, including a provincial review of regional governments aiming to find ways to build homes more quickly.


Windsor’s mayor welcomes the renewed attention to housing construction with municipalities expected to carry out the vital function of approving projects and site plans; however, federal immigration targets aiming to welcome 500,000 newcomers annually by 2025, meant to help address chronic labour shortages, temper Dilkens’ optimism of reaching provincial housing targets of 13,000 units by 2031.

“I’m an optimist by nature so, I’m always hopeful that we’ll be able to meet the goal, but it becomes increasingly difficult when the federal policy is to bring in 500,000 newcomers to Canada this year — that puts more pressure on an already-strained system,” said Dilkens.

According to the government, Canada has seen back-to-back record years of immigration.

In 2022, there were 431,645 newcomers welcomed to the country, besting the previous record set in 2021 of 401,000.Newcomers To Canada statistics. (Source: Government of Canada)

The figures represent immigration levels not seen in Canada since 1913 — and builders haven’t kept up.

Despite the increased attention to housing from all levels of government, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) projects housing starts to decline in 2023 to 212,00 units from the 262,000 units in 2022.

A CMHC market outlook issued in the spring shows expectations for growth in Windsor are modest between 2023 and 2025. Skilled labour shortages are one of the main factors constricting growth.

“These [housing measures] will make an incremental difference,” Dilkens continued. “It’s good news, anyway you look at this, this is positive news and will help move the needle, but there’s a lot of pressure in the system.”

This week, CMHC outlined the need for a further 3.5 million housing units to be built by 2030 to address the housing shortage and affordability, on top of what is already on track to be built by that point. Top Stories

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