May 29, 2024

tables

Poilievre tables his bill ‘Building Homes Not Bureaucracy Act’

Poilievre's Building Homes Not Bureaucracy bill seeks to create a target for the completion of new homes in Canada's largest cities that increases by 15% yearly and is tied to funding

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OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre intends to give bonuses to “high-cost cities” that meet their new housing targets and reallocate $100 million from the Liberals’ Housing Accelerator Fund to reward Canadian municipalities that greatly exceed theirs.

On Wednesday, Poilievre tabled his housing bill, the Building Homes Not Bureaucracy Act, that offers a clearer view of what he hopes to achieve to accelerate construction in the midst of Canada’s housing crisis.

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The legislation seeks to establish a target for the completion of new homes in Canada’s largest cities — Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa — that increases by 15 per cent every year and is tied to federal infrastructure funding allocated to them based on that target.

It provides a mathematical formula based on the number of new housing units in a “high-cost city” completed in the preceding fiscal year, in comparison to 2023 levels.

The federal government would reserve the right to adjust infrastructure funding should unforeseen circumstances — such as a national disaster, an economic recession, a war, or act of terrorism — prevent those cities from reaching their number of new housing units for that given year.

In addition to those building bonuses, all municipalities could also share a pot of money totalling $100 million, but only if they “greatly exceed housing targets,” according to the bill.

It also requires housing to be near public transit, specifying that federal transit funding provided to certain cities would be “held in trust” until “high-density residential housing is substantially occupied on available land around federally funded transit projects’ stations.”

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And the bill makes it a condition that in order for certain cities to receive federal infrastructure and transit funding they “not unduly restrict or delay the approval of building permits for housing.”

An “eligible person who has reasonable grounds” to believe that building permits have been delayed or restricted could submit a complaint to the federal government.

Poilievre’s legislation also seeks to punish executives who don’t get housing built fast enough, either by eliminating their bonuses unless housing targets are met and to reduce their pay if applications for new housing construction are not treated within an average of 60 days.

More specifically, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act would be amended to specify that no bonuses be issued to members of the CMHC’s executive committee unless the national target of 15 per cent of more homes built is achieved each year.

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And if the average time to approve or reject an application is more than 60 days for a continuous period of six months, they can expect their salary to be slashed in half.

The bill also provides a GST rebate on new residential rental properties for which the average rent is “below market rate.”

Finally, the bill requires the federal government to table a report identifying an inventory of federal buildings and land, and to propose a plan to sell at least 15 per cent of all buildings and land that would be appropriate for housing construction, subject to certain exceptions.

Land that would be deemed not appropriate for housing construction includes land certified by the minister of the environment as “ecologically sensitive,” or located within one of Canada’s national parks, or certified as being essential to the provision of government services.

Eligible federal properties would have to be placed on the housing market within 12 months of tabling the report, states the bill.

Poilievre had fleshed out certain housing promises in an announcement last week, which prompted some acknowledgement and criticism from Housing Minister Sean Fraser.

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Fraser said he agreed on the 60-day timeline for CMHC to approve or reject applications, but criticized the Conservatives’ plan to cut the GST on certain rental properties, which he called a “half-measure” that would leave out most new homes targeting middle-class Canadians.

“They say it’s about building homes and not bureaucracy, but they would have to insert a level of administrative capacity to identify which units get approved in order to identify who is going to benefit from the limited exemption of GST that they’re providing,” Fraser said earlier this week.

Fraser also called the “snitch line for NIMBYism” a “bizarre” suggestion and said it would not lead to more homes being built.

He said the government would not be supporting Poilievre’s legislation.

The Conservative list of “high-cost cities”:

Brampton, Ont.
Burnaby, B.C.
Calgary, Alta.
Gatineau, Que.
Halifax, N.S.
Hamilton, Ont.
Kitchener, Ont.
Laval, Que.
London, Ont.
Longueuil, Que.
Markham, Ont.
Mississauga, On.
Montreal, Que.
Oakville, Ont.
Ottawa, Ont.
Richmond, B.C.
Richmond Hill, Ont.
Surrey, B.C.
Toronto, Ont.
Vancouver, B.C.
Vaughan, Ont.
Windsor, Ont.

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