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Trudeau announces funding for affordable housing construction in Cape Breton



Nova Scotia witnessed a significant housing development announcement as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed plans to invest $13.3 million to expedite the construction of 367 housing units over the next three years. Against the backdrop of a snow-covered housing development in the Membertou First Nation, Trudeau addressed the housing challenges faced by Canadians across the country.


Speaking at a news conference, Trudeau acknowledged the pressing issues of housing, rents, and mortgages that have become the forefront concerns for many. He highlighted the government's commitment to re-enter the housing sector, emphasizing a departure from previous Conservative governments' disengagement from housing matters.


The funding comprises a $1.9-million agreement with Membertou and an $11-million agreement with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, with the potential to catalyze the construction of over 3,200 homes in the next decade. The financial infusion is part of the federal government's $4-billion Housing Accelerator Fund, introduced in March 2023, aimed at incentivizing municipalities to revise bylaws and regulations to expedite housing construction.


Trudeau emphasized the need for accelerating the pace of housing construction across the nation. The Housing Accelerator Fund encourages municipalities to adopt denser zoning rules, hasten building permit approvals, and maximize the use of public and underutilized lands. Additionally, it provides incentives for both non-profit and private homebuilders to embark on affordable housing projects.


The agreement with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality involves pre-approved building plans, streamlining the permitting process, and financial incentives to developers for affordable housing. Meanwhile, the pact with Membertou includes measures such as recruiting housing administration staff and construction managers to expedite the building process. The funds will also be directed towards enhancing access to critical infrastructure like bridges, water, and sewer services.


Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation expressed optimism about the impact of the funding, anticipating a significant reduction in housing needs and the provision of 'forever homes' for many community members.


As of Thursday, this announcement marks the 53rd agreement signed by the federal government since the launch of the Housing Accelerator Fund. Trudeau asserted that the housing challenge, while widespread, is one that Canada has overcome before and will address effectively once again.


This announcement in Cape Breton follows Trudeau's recent housing commitments in Alberta and British Columbia earlier in the week. The federal government pledged $175 million for the construction of 5,200 housing units in Edmonton and an additional $2 billion for British Columbia's BC Builds initiative.


Trudeau's commitment to addressing housing challenges extends beyond Cape Breton, as he has previously announced funding for housing projects in New Brunswick and other provinces. The government's proactive approach to affordable housing construction reflects its determination to provide viable solutions to the housing crisis across the country.


Before making the Cape Breton announcement, Trudeau visited a long-term care home under construction in the Eskasoni First Nation, emphasizing the government's investment in healthcare infrastructure as well. The chief of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, Norm Sylliboy, expressed gratitude for the $19.7 million Ottawa contributed to the project, which is expected to benefit residents in April 2024.


In Eskasoni, Leroy Denny, the chief, shared his personal connection to the project, expressing joy that his mother, who has dementia, will be among the first residents in the new facility. The Eskasoni project reflects a holistic approach to community development, combining efforts in both housing and healthcare sectors to enhance the overall well-being of residents.


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