Port Coquitlam is seeking millions in federal funding to address housing needs throughout the city.
Port Coquitlam council unanimously supported a motion last week to apply for $20 million from the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), a federal initiative to increase housing in cities across the country.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” Mayor Brad West stated at the July 25 committee-of-council meeting.
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“This is a moment where other levels of government, both provincial and federal, have an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.”
The HAF is managed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Bruce Irvine, Port Coquitlam’s director of planning and development, said the fund has a total of $4 billion available to local governments. However, the CMHC has already targeted some communities that may require funding.
Larger municipalities, such as Vancovuer and Burnaby, and cities with previous relationships with the crown corporation, were able to apply for HAF earlier in the year, according to Irvine.
Irvine stated that Port Coquitlam’s bid may fall short given the favoritism towards larger cities.
However, he acknowledged that Port Coquitlam could create 1,650 housing units in the next three years.
“We would be something of a long shot for this particular program,” Irvine stated. “However, we are something of a poster child for this program. We are exactly what the project intends: a city that is capable of growth.”
The CMHC mandates cities to meet a series of objectives to secure funding.
Specifically, Port Coquitlam must identify the areas of housing they are trying to grow, invest in housing-related action items, and emphasize affordable housing.
“Our goal is to establish targets, project what we can potentially build, and then apply for the application to get the maximum amount of money,” Irvine stated.
Port Coquitlam has averaged a net of 322 new residential units per year over the past 10 years, the city announced in a press release. Nearly 500 units of affordable housing have also been built over the past five years.
The city is looking to add 550 new units per year with the HAF funding — primarily alongside new construction in the downtown core.
In July, Port Coquitlam started a one-year construction project at Leigh Square. The development was a part of a $11.85 million plan to revitalize other areas of downtown Port Coquitlam, including Veterans Park and McAllister Avenue.
“Future opportunities for growth within the downtown [area] are anticipated to be within the core,” the city wrote in a press release.
A majority of developments in downtown Port Coquitlam have occurred south of Wilson Street. A 56-unit rental apartment for senior citizens, for example, is nearly complete.
In total, 80 per cent of all new homes built in Port Coquitlam over the past five years were apartment or multi-family builds.
If Port Coquitlam’s application is approved, they will receive funding through four separate advances in the next three years.
The HAF application process is open until Aug. 18.