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St. Albert federal housing grant application still under review

Nearly $190M in Housing Accelerator Fund money was announced last week for seven Alberta municipalities

St. Albert is still waiting to hear whether its application will be approved after nearly $190 million in federal grant funding for housing initiatives in seven Alberta municipalities was announced last week, including Edmonton. 

The grant program, called the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), is a $4 billion program the federal government announced last March designed to give municipalities money to act on internally developed housing action plans.

On Feb. 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Edmonton to announce Alberta's capital city would get $175 million over three years for its housing action plan, which includes upgrading permitting software, as well as a commitment to promote the development of secondary suites, a multi-phased property tax reduction for multi-family building owners, and more. Edmonton's full housing action plan can be found on the city's website.

St. Albert city council signed off on its housing action plan in August, just in time to meet the grant program's application deadline. The housing plan consists of developing two housing development incentive programs, two new city strategies for pushing infill and brownfield development, and implementing electronic permitting software to speed up processing times.

At the time, city staff estimated St. Albert could receive between $7-$12 million in grant funding.

On Feb. 19, the federal government and Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation announced that Banff, Westlock, Sylvan Lake, Smoky Lake, Bow Island, and the Village of Duchess were receiving a combined $13.8 million for their individual housing action plans, with Banff receiving the most funding ($4.6 million).

Banff's housing action plan revolves mainly around substantial changes to the town's land-use bylaw, which dictates what kind of, and how, development takes place locally. For example, one of the town's action plan items is to reduce parking requirements for new builds, while also allowing secondary suites to be developed in all residential areas.

Banff's housing plan also includes hiring a temporary staff member to serve as the town's housing liaison.

Micaal Ahmed, communications manager for Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities Minister Sean Fraser, said in an email St. Albert's application is still being reviewed, “but we’re hoping to announce a decision soon.”

“There's not really a deadline for me,” Mayor Cathy Heron said when asked when she's hoping to hear if St. Albert is approved. “When [they figure out] the dollars, then we'll take them.”

Heron also said the city has its eyes on other outstanding funding opportunities related to housing, such as the 22 St. Thomas Street affordable housing project, which is eligible for the federal government's Affordable Housing Fund program, as well as the provincial government's Affordable Housing Partnership Program.

“It's a shovel-ready good project,” Heron said. “It's a win-win.”

Coun. Wes Brodhead said he knows St. Albert's HAF application is solid, and it just comes down to the federal government determining St. Albert's grant amount.

“What I've heard is that it's still in the mix, our application is good ... it's just a matter now of having the funds adjudicated,” he said.

“Hopefully we'll get it, but we haven't heard yet.”

As of Feb. 22 over 50 municipalities across the country have received HAF funding, with more announcements expected in the coming weeks.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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