On Tuesday, the Government of Canada announced that it has reached an agreement with the District of Squamish that will see the region receive $7M through the Housing Accelerator Fund.
The funding is expected to fast track over 200 housing units over the next three years and spur the construction of over 1,300 new homes over the next 10 years.
Housing Accelerator Fund money is released in installments. After an initial installment, municipal governments must fulfill the requirements as outlined in their agreement with the federal government to help bolster housing supply — amending policy or approving new policy, as two examples — before further installments are released.
According to Tuesday's announcement, as part of their agreement, the District of Squamish will commit to seven local initiatives.
"The funding will help provide faster approvals for missing medium-density and gentle density housing such as accessory dwelling units, townhouses and multiplexes," said CMHC. "It will accelerate the development of affordable homes on municipally-owned land. It will allow increased density and more homes along core transit networks by introducing zoning permissions for six-units as-of-right on single lots. The action plan also includes infrastructure and amenity planning for complete communities."
Other items in the District's action plan include incentives for affordable and non-profit rental homes, a density bonus program, and the creation of an accessory dwelling unit program.
While Squamish is not one of British Columbia's bigger municipalities — based on the 2021 Census, its population places it just ahead of White Rock, but below Langley — it has been the subject of increased attention in recent years, with notable BC developers such as Bosa Properties and Anthem Properties each currently building large-scale master plan communities in Squamish.
"Housing in Squamish has become unaffordable if not unattainable for many residents, and we know this is an issue being felt to various degrees nation-wide," said Mayor of the District of Squamish Armand Hurford. "We are encouraged to see the federal government take action to fund housing for Canadians and are grateful for the significant grant we have been successful in securing. Affordable housing has long been a strategic priority for the District, and this grant will fund a local Housing Delivery Team dedicated to increase housing supply strategically and substantially over the coming years. As our community continues to grow and evolve over time, this aims to ensure all residents can see a future for themselves and their families in Squamish."
The Squamish funding comes one day after an announcement for Richmond, which will receive $36M. Other municipalities in BC that have reached Housing Accelerator Fund agreements include Kelowna, Vancouver, Burnaby, and Surrey.
The announcement for Squamish was made by West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP Patrick Weiler and Mayor of the District of Squamish Armand Hurford. Federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities Sean Fraser was not present, as has been the case for most of the announcements in BC.