City council approved a change order to update the city’s Housing Business Plan in order to apply for federal funding.
The federal government recently announced that $4 billion in funding would be available through the Housing Accelerator Fund Program.
Consultants are currently working on updating the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and Zoning Bylaw. City council approved transferring $10,500 from the Innovative Housing account to the OCP and Zoning Bylaw update account. According to city administration, those consultants would be in the best position to update the Housing Business Plan and help the city prepare the grant application.
Director of Planning and Development Michelle Sanson said the federal government has given a short timeline to get applications in.
“They've only given us a timeline for summer 2023. There's only one window in 2023 and no date at this point,” she said.
Eligible applicants would need an action plan with seven housing initiatives, a housing supply growth target and a housing needs assessment report.
The city currently has a Housing Business Plan, but it would not be eligible for the grant.
“Unfortunately, our plan was more than two years old. That must be within two years, so we would require a more current and up-to-date housing business plan to even apply for the funding at that point,” Sanson said.
Planning and Development, Public Works, Engineering and Park and Recreation plan to work together to identify the seven initiatives for the application and will present them to city council at a future meeting.
Sanson explained what kind of projects the federal funding could cover.
“This funding can be used for all kinds of different projects. It can be for infrastructure, including wastewater, energy, local roads, bridges, sidewalks, lighting, there are all kinds of different opportunities,” she said.
Coun. Heather Eby spoke in support of updating the Housing Business Plan, saying that the city should take advantage when grants become available.
“I think we have to always be prepared to take advantage, hopefully, of any grants that would become available, especially when you look at the list, there are many things on here that really tick the boxes for us,” Eby said.
The city’s 2023 budget includes $125,000 in the Innovative Housing account for new housing projects. Sanson estimated that $10,500 would affect the funding of two dwelling units, but the federal funding has the potential to fund many more units over the next few years.