After weeks of teaser announcements, the Government of Canada finally unveiled Budget 2024 on Tuesday, which is heavily focused on housing and billed as a plan that will bring "fairness for every generation."

"A fair chance to build a good middle class life — to do as well as your parents, or better — that's the promise of Canada," wrote Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland in the foreword of the budget. "For too many, especially for younger Canadians, that promise is at risk. We have a plan to fix that. We have a plan to build a Canada that works better for you, where you can get ahead, where your hard work pays off, where you can buy a home — where you have a fair chance at a good middle class life."

Budget 2024 is split into eight distinct sections, the first of which is dedicated to housing and titled, simply, "More Affordable Homes." The section includes numerous actions to address the housing affordability crisis, many of which were announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau across the past few weeks.

It also includes, however, a handful of actions that have not been previously announced. Many of these are smaller actions with smaller dollar amounts tied to them, compared to what's already been announced, but they could nonetheless make an impact.

Reviewing The Federal Lands Portfolio

Taking a page out of British Columbia's housing playbook and BC Builds, the federal government says it will be conducting a "rapid review of its entire federal lands portfolio to identify more land for housing." Following the review, it will require government departments and agencies to offer up specific parcels of land according to specified targets, consulting with other levels of government and the private sector to identify more lands to be made available for housing.

READ: Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon On How BC Built BC Builds

Finally, the government will then publish a new "Public Land Bank" that encompasses an inventory of those available lands. The federal government says it will be publishing this Public Land Bank before Fall 2024 and says that it may introduce legislation, if needed, to "facilitate the acquisition and use of public lands for homes, in partnership with other orders of government."

Overhauling The Canada Lands Company

As part of Budget 2024, the federal government says it has earmarked $5M over three years, starting from 2024-2025, to support an "overhaul" of the Canada Lands Company, the self-financing Crown corporation that specializes in redeveloping real estate formerly owned by the Government of Canada.

The federal government says these "reforms" will include initiating redevelopment processes earlier, bundling multiple properties to be transferred at once, converting underused government offices into multi-use properties, and working with other Crown corporations to redevelop their surplus or underutilized properties — among other things.

Separately, also as part of Budget 2024, the federal government has earmarked $4M across two years for the Canada Lands Company to support four modular housing projects. Those four projects are: Shannon Park in Nova Scotia, Village at Griesbach in Edmonton, Downsview in Toronto, and Wellington Basin in Montréal.

Creating A Public Lands Action Council

In order to "spur collaboration and equip all players with the tools they need to build homes on public lands," the federal government says it will be launching a new Public Lands Action Council as early as this spring.

"The Public Lands Action Council will bring all players together to identify specific parcels of land across Canada with high potential for housing and take concerted action to accelerate construction on these lands," the government says. "This group will also help shape the federal government's approach to building homes on public lands, including the design of the Public Lands Acquisition Fund."

Through Budget 2024, the Government of Canada has earmarked $1.8M over two years for the Privy Council Office to create a Public Lands Action Council Secretariat.

Leveraging Canada Post Properties

Canada Post manages a portfolio that includes 1,700 post offices across 1,700 communities, the federal government says many of these properties are low-rise buildings that can be "leveraged to build new homes across the country, while maintaining Canada Post services."

At the moment, six Canada Post properties are being assessed for housing development — three in Quebec, two in British Columbia, one in Alberta — and the federal government says many more could potentially be unlocked for housing development.

READ: How QuadReal "Breathed New Life" Into The Historic Post Building in Vancouver

As part of Budget 2024, the government says it will launch a new Canada Post Housing Program to support affordable housing providers that build on disposed or leased Canada Post properties. More details are expected to be announced later this year. Additionally, the government will also enable Canada Post to prioritize leasing or divesting its properties that carry a high potential for housing.

Modernizing Housing Data

"To better understand the needs of local housing markets, we need better data," the federal government says. "Every order of government should be committed to a data-driven response to the housing crisis."

Through Budget 2024, the federal government has earmarked $20M over four years for Statistics Canada and the CMHC to "modernize and enhance the collection and dissemination of housing data, including municipal-level data on housing starts and completions."

Accelerating Investment To Build More Apartments

The Government of Canada says it wants to build off of the success of removing the GST from new rental construction by "taking further action to make the math work for homebuilders."

Through Budget 2024, the government says it will introduce a temporary accelerated capital cost allowance of 10% for eligible new rental construction projects that begin construction on or after April 16, 2024 and are available for residents to move in before January 1, 2036.

The federal government says increasing the allowance to 10% — up from the current 4% — will "incentivize builders by moving projects from unfeasible to feasible, through increased after-tax returns on investment" and cost the government approximately $1.1B over five years.

"The measure does not change the total amount of depreciation expenses being deducted over time, it simply accelerates it," the government adds. "Allowing homebuilders to deduct certain depreciation expenses over a shorter period of time allows homebuilders to recover more of their costs faster, enabling further investment of their money back into new housing projects."

Divesting National Defence Lands

Similar to the aforementioned Canada Post, the federal government says the Department of National Defence owns 622 properties that total to 2.2 million hectares across Canada, many of which are not fully utilized and could be used to build more homes.

As part of Budget 2024, the government announced that it has begun exploring the redevelopment of National Defence properties in Halifax, Toronto, and Victoria, and will also be divesting 14 surplus properties that are no longer needed. The aforementioned review of the federal lands portfolio is also expected to identify more of such properties.

READ: Behind The Scenes Of Vancouver's 90-Acre Jericho Lands Project

Cracking Down On Short-Term Rentals

Shortly after the BC provincial government announced its suite of actions against short-term rentals in October, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the federal government was "actively examining" options it could take against short-term rentals on the federal level.

As part of Budget 2024, the federal government announced that it will be launching a $50M Short-Term Rental Enforcement Fund. Few details were revealed, with the government saying that it is currently engaging with stakeholders to "design a program that will be responsive to municipal needs." More details are expected to be announced later this year.

Converting Underused Federal Offices Into Homes

As part of Budget 2024, the government says it will provide $1.1B over 10 years to Public Services and Procurement Canada in order to reduce its office portfolio by 50%. The funding will contribute towards accelerating the ending of leases and the disposal of underused federal office buildings, which will then be made available for conversion into housing, with a focus on student housing and non-market housing.

"Today, Public Services and Procurement Canada has over 6 million square metres of office space, of which an estimated 50% is underused or entirely vacant," the federal government says. "This is not an effective use of resources, particularly at a time when Canada is facing a shortage of homes. The federal government is moving forward with a significant disposal effort to reduce its office footprint. This would enable more office buildings, particularly in urban areas, to be converted into homes for Canadians, while also ensuring the responsible use of government resources."

Taxing Vacant Lands To Incentivize Construction

"At a time when we need to build as quickly as possible, it makes no sense that good land, in good areas, is sitting there, underused," says the federal government. "As all orders of government put in place policies to tackle housing supply shortages, there is a concern that some landowners in Canada may be sitting on developable land, hoping to profit from rising land values when the land could instead be used for immediate residential development."

In response to this, the government announced in Budget 2024 that it is considering the introduction of a new tax on residentially-zoned vacant land, in order to force landowners and developers to build rather than sit on the land. The Government of Canada says it will launch consultations on this potential new tax later this year.