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Federal government to give $471 million to Toronto in housing deal

In a groundbreaking move to tackle Toronto's housing challenges, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday that the federal government will inject a substantial $471 million into the city's housing sector. This strategic funding is part of a collaborative agreement designed to expedite the construction of nearly 12,000 additional housing units over the next three years.

The financial boost comes through the federal Housing Accelerator Fund, a $4-billion initiative aimed at incentivizing municipalities to streamline their bylaws and regulations, thus accelerating housing development. Trudeau emphasized the importance of this investment in addressing Toronto's pressing housing demand during the announcement in the city.

"Through this funding, Toronto will make it easier to get projects rolling by simplifying rezoning requirements and modernizing regulations," Trudeau explained. "It will also update old zoning rules, expand existing affordable rental programs, and build more homes near transit."

The primary goal is to not only alleviate the current housing crisis but also to create a lasting impact. Trudeau highlighted that this initiative is expected to contribute to the construction of over 50,000 homes in the next decade, marking a significant stride towards a more sustainable housing future for the city.

The funding is part of a broader effort to encourage municipalities to enact crucial changes in local policies in exchange for financial support. Key changes sought by the federal government include denser zoning and faster issuance of permits, all aimed at fostering a more agile and responsive housing construction landscape.

Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow joined Trudeau for the announcement, expressing their enthusiasm for the transformative potential of this investment. Mayor Chow characterized the agreement as a "hopeful new beginning" for a city where more than 10,000 people currently sleep in shelters every night.

Chow outlined the city's commitment to making the approval process quicker and more efficient. Initiatives include developing city-owned land, expediting the delivery of new, permanently affordable rental homes, expanding "missing middle" housing options, and simplifying planning approvals to increase purpose-built rental supply in apartment neighborhood zones.

Toronto submitted its application for this funding in June, with a revised version in August, outlining eight key initiatives. With Thursday's announcement, Toronto joins 15 other municipalities across the country that have entered into similar agreements with the federal government. London, Ontario, took the lead in September as the first city to sign such a deal under the national housing accelerator fund.

As Toronto embarks on this ambitious journey to revitalize its housing landscape, the substantial federal investment is poised to bring about tangible changes, offering hope for a brighter, more accessible future for residents in need of affordable housing.

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