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Federal government putting in $33.5M for new housing in three Island communities

Federal money going to projects in Victoria, Campbell River and Comox
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Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan addresses the crowd during a housing announcement at 840 Fort St. on Friday. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

The federal government is investing close to $33.5 million into Victoria, Campbell River and Comox initiatives to fast-track a total of 900 new housing units in the next three years.

Victoria will receive nearly $18 million, Campbell River $10.4 million, and Comox just over $5 million for everything from high-density projects to student housing, affordable homes, and housing near transit.

Money is coming out of the $4-billion federal housing accelerator fund, which aims to see 100,000 new homes built over its first three years. Applications from communities were submitted last year through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said the funding will make a “profound difference” in the city, noting federal support comes at a time when “interest rates and costs are exploding every day.”

Money will go to support municipal initiatives to foster more units, support missing-middle housing, and work on its 10-year official community plan review, she said at the Friday announcement in downtown Victoria.

Funds will assist Victoria in examining ways to modernize its application review and approval process, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said in a statement. Funds will bring into effect zoning changes aimed at seeing medium-density, duplex and multi-family housing and developing underused sites with up to six units per lot and up to 12 units on corner properties.

“We are looking at densifying residential across the city,” Alto said. It will help the city as it transforms local housing policies and zoning to move forward development of “diverse, innovative and affordable housing.”

Campbell River Mayor Kermit Dahl said funds will help fast-track 282 housing units in his community. The city has an overall goal to encourage development of 1,200 units in total within three years.

Finding affordable housing is a challenge in Campbell River, he said.

The goal is to see available housing meet the community’s diverse needs, he said. That means supporting development of a mix of housing types such as affordable homes, places that let people age in place and boosting the numbers of rental units.

Comox Mayor Nicole Minions said the federal funding is “a big deal for our community.” Changes are coming to Comox as it moves from a retirement community to a growing more diverse and vibrant place, she said.

Federal funds are needed to help reach its density goals more quickly, she said.

Comox housing is 67 per cent single-family; Minions said she wants to see more types of housing developed, such as condominiums, townhouses and duplexes.

Similar to other municipalities, Comox is revamping its development processes, something required by the province as it introduced several initiatives in recent months to increase the housing supply.

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan said the funding partnerships with the three Island communities will “help build more homes, faster at prices working families can afford.”

He predicts that developing 900 news homes will spur an additional 16,000 units in the coming 10 years.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com