Government of Canada helps to improve housing affordability and choice



    OTTAWA, June 23 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Minister Responsible for
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), today announced 17 new grants
that will improve housing affordability for Canadians. The grants, totalling
more than $84,000, are being awarded under CMHC's Affordability and Choice
Today (ACT) Initiative.
    "The Government of Canada recognizes that streamlining approvals enables
housing projects to avoid costly delays," said Minister Finley. "By reducing
red-tape and eliminating hurdles in planning and building regulations, these
ACT grants will result in changes that will make housing more affordable and
provide more housing options for Canadians."
    Operating since 1990, ACT provides grants up to $5,000, to local teams
made up of municipalities, builders and housing stakeholders who promote the
improvement of planning and building regulations in their communities to lower
the cost of housing. ACT also offers a wealth of proven best practices and
lessons learned so that communities can benefit from the innovations of
others.
    ACT is funded by CMHC and administered and delivered by the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities (FCM), with the participation of the Canadian Home
Builders' Association (CHBA) and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association
(CHRA).
    "ACT enables municipalities, home builders and housing groups to work
together on regulatory reforms that support innovation. This results in
tangible actions that improve housing affordability and choice," stated FCM
President Basil Stewart.
    "Non-profit housing groups can benefit from the experiences of ACT
project teams in addressing housing needs in their communities," added CHRA
President David Eddy.
    "ACT grants support solutions that the home building industry and
municipalities across Canada can use to expand housing affordability and
choice, such as secondary suites." said CHBA President Gary Friend. "ACT
shares these regulatory reform solutions across the country so that others can
benefit from them."
    As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 60 years of
experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally
sustainable, and affordable homes - homes that will continue to create
vibrant, healthy communities and cities across the country.
    A backgrounder on ACT and a list of ACT grant recipients for June 2009
and brief descriptions of their projects is attached.

    
                       ACT GRANT RECIPIENTS June 2009
    

    Affordable Housing Now - Designing Secondary Suites: Safe N'Sound
    Residence, Owen Sound, Ontario

    A $5,000 grant to host an information booth showcasing design options for
secondary suites at a local Home Expo, followed by a seminar-style workshop
specifically geared to help interested homeowners move forward with
secondary-suite construction projects.

    Flexible Housing Suites in Affordable Townhouses: City of Abbotsford,
    B.C.

    A $5,000 grant to host two workshops where municipalities with recent
experience and communities with an interest in promoting flexible housing will
be invited to attend. The City of Abbotsford is partnering with CMHC and
Habitat for Humanity to build a flexible housing pilot project consisting of
12 to 14 townhouses, six of which would be designed and built with a secondary
suite. This pilot project will look at the feasibility of more widely
permitting secondary suites in townhouse units and at relaxing parking
requirements. It will also introduce agreements to protect both the use and
long-term affordability of the housing units.

    Secondary Suites - Public Education Program: City of Victoria, B.C.

    A $5,000 grant to offer a one-day open house at City Hall where residents
can bring in their plans for secondary suites and be briefed on the regulatory
process. It is intended that one-on-one discussions will provide greater
clarity on what it takes to create secondary suites. The ACT grant will be
used to plan and promote the open house, to communicate the regulatory changes
and the financial incentive program to residents.

    Workshop on Sustainable Communities and Housing: Town of Calmar, Alberta

    A $5,000 grant to host a two-day workshop on affordable housing and
community revitalization to discuss new ideas and rethink current policies and
bylaws to develop more sustainably, and create more affordable housing.

    Secondary Suites as an Affordable Housing Option: City of Prince Albert,
    Saskatchewan

    A $5,000 grant to amend the zoning bylaw to allow secondary suites in all
neighbourhoods of Prince Albert. The grant will be used to hold public
consultation meetings on rezoning to permit secondary suites. It will also be
used to do a city-wide education campaign to promote the value of secondary
suites and inform residents of the building and fire requirements.

    Water on the Ground: Water Efficiency Planning Workshop: POLIS Project on
    Ecological Governance, University of Victoria, B.C.

    A $4,860 grant to develop and deliver a workshop for municipal staff to
discuss water conservation planning and the regulatory barriers the building
industry faces in implementing water efficiency technologies, including
development charges and permit processes. Removing these barriers will
potentially defer or avoid increased water infrastructure capital costs and
reduce housing costs.

    Legalizing Secondary Suites: City of Dawson Creek, B.C.

    A $4,900 grant to hold a workshop with developers and community
organizations to explore different regulatory options for enhancing
affordability through legalization of basement suites and/or laneway housing.
The project also aims to develop a secondary-suite bylaw that would be
tailored to Dawson Creek.

    Development Information Manual: City of Temiskaming Shores, Ontario

    A $5,000 grant to prepare a Development Manual consolidating development
application requirements and user-friendly guides for development within the
City of Temiskaming Shores. This project will streamline the development
application process within the City.

    Kaslo and Area Affordable Housing Strategy: North Kootenay Lake Community
    Services Society, Kaslo, B.C.

    A $5,000 grant to hold a workshop and a forum to explore options for
creating policies to increase the affordable housing stock in Kaslo where the
demand for vacation homes inflates housing prices and reduces housing
availability for year-long residents. The project will look at how
village-owned property can be utilized to improve housing affordability and
availability.

    Downtown Revitalization: Georgian Triangle Housing Resource Centre,
    Collingwood, Ontario

    A $5,000 grant to hold a series of three workshops to encourage the
creation of affordable rental housing in the unused space above commercial
units within the downtown core of Collingwood. The project will examine the
implications of the restrictive zoning bylaw regarding residential use above
commercial space and solutions to regulatory barriers.

    Sustainable Community Design for Subdivisions: Association of Municipal
    Administrators of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.

    A $5,000 grant to make on-line training modules available on conservation
subdivision design. This project will expand audience outreach and help
promote the implementation of conservation design where development is
clustered in 50 per cent of the buildable area, protecting open space and
reducing infrastructure and housing costs.

    Capturing Condo Units for Affordable Housing: Kehilla Residential
    Program, Toronto, Ontario

    A $5,000 grant to document, hold a workshop and present a recommendation
for regulatory reform using the success of a project in Toronto. In this
project, a developer received permission for extra density by transferring
four condo units to a non-profit corporation, which will retain ownership of
the units and keep the rents affordable in perpetuity.

    Cortes Housing Initiative: Friends of Cortes Island, Cortes Island, B.C.

    A $5,000 grant to hold a community workshop to look at changing the
zoning to allow multi-family dwellings, cluster housing and land trusts. The
changes aim to help over 30 families and 15 individuals who have housing
during the winter months of September through May, but are camping from June
to August when summer cottage owners return to the island.

    Housing in Accessible Communities: SPARC BC Society, Burnaby, B.C.

    A $5,000 grant to host a workshop for municipal staff and elected
officials to provide a set of tools to build more accessible and inclusive
communities. The workshop will present model bylaws, policy position and
standards of adaptability and of universal design that municipalities can
adopt to provide a regulatory framework to support accessible communities.

    Farm Worker Housing Policy Review: Community Council, Victoria, B.C.

    A $5,000 grant to undertake a review of farm worker housing policies and
draft recommendations for the establishment of clear criteria to evaluate
proposals for farm worker housing. The project aims to expand affordable
housing choice for farm workers in the District of Central Saanich.

    Development Services Workshop for Industry: Greater Vancouver Home
    Builders' Association, Vancouver, B.C.

    A $4,450 grant to host a forum on municipal planning processes and
procedures to improve the working relationship between the residential
construction industry and municipal staff. The goal is to have faster project
approvals and subsequent project cost-savings for the consumer.

    Renovation and Redevelopment: Get Ready Homeowners: City of Vancouver,
    B.C.

    A $5,000 grant to hold two day-long information workshops aimed at
homeowners who are planning a renovation or redevelopment. The workshops will
focus on new land-use options emerging as part of the City's EcoDensity
strategy, such as laneway rental housing and use of basements for housing.

    
                                 BACKGROUNDER
                     AFFORDABILITY AND CHOICE TODAY (ACT)

    Regulatory reform is a major concern to home builders and non-profit
organizations looking for new ways to make housing more affordable.
Municipalities also want to modify their regulations and update their
procedures to make service delivery more efficient, while enhancing their
community's quality of life.
    The Affordability and Choice Today (ACT) Initiative was created in 1990 to
address these issues by funding and promoting practical solutions at the local
level that overcome planning and building regulatory barriers to the
development of affordable housing. ACT has documented these ideas in case
studies and information sheets that can be downloaded from ACT's website. This
information is promoted at workshops, conferences and other events.
    ACT provides grants of up to $5,000 to local teams made up of
municipalities, private and non-profit home builders and other housing
stakeholders. These teams use the grants to promote or initiate regulatory
reform in their communities, aimed at increasing housing affordability and
offering housing options that meet the community's needs. Eligible projects
must include a specific activity or product, such as a stakeholder
consultation, survey, background research, workshop, open house or promotional
material.
    The initiative is funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
and administered and delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
(FCM) with the participation of the Canadian Home Builders' Association
(CHBA), and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA).
    Grant applications are selected by ACT's National Management Committee,
which represents the four partners. Applications can be submitted at any time.
    With 158 projects complete, ACT has a rich database of solutions that
local partners can benefit from in their future housing projects. Solution
sheets and case studies from previously completed ACT grants are available on
the website www.actprogram.com. Recently completed projects include:

    - New Plan Reflects Northern City's Unique Character: City of Iqaluit,
      Nunavut Territory
    - A Plan to Regulate Residential Construction and Renovation: Atlantic
      Home Building and Renovation Sector Council, Nova Scotia
    - Developing Laneway Housing: Terence Van Elslander and Jeffery Stinson,
      Architects, Toronto, ON
    - Flex-Plex Housing: Industry-Municipal Partnership for Innovation: CHBA,
      Victoria, BC
    - Task Force Charts New Path to Affordable Housing: City of Kelowna, BC
    - Financing Conversion of an Institutional Building to Affordable,
      Accessible Apartments: Regional Municipality of York, Ontario
    - Sustainable Aboriginal Demonstration Project Challenges Traditional
      Practices: Julia Bourke Architecture Inc., Montreal, Quebec
    - Neighbourhood Infill Housing for Whistler's Resident Workforce: Resort
      Municipality of Whistler, BC
    - Building Code Options Reduce Renovation Costs for Inner-City Housing:
      New Life Ministries, Winnipeg, Manitoba
    

    ACT's knowledgeable staff can also help find solutions and assist local
stakeholders in addressing regulatory issues. For more information about the
ACT grant application process and about ACT solutions call (613) 907-6242,
email info@actprogram.com or consult the CMHC web site at www.cmhc.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Michelle Bakos, Press Secretary, Office of
Minister Finley, (819) 994-2482; Kristen Scheel, Senior Media Relations
Officer, CMHC-SCHL, (613) 748-2799


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