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City council approves housing pledge

By CJ Goater Oct 24, 2023 | 11:41 AM

File Photo (Adam Riley/Acadia Broadcasting)

City council has approved Thunder Bay’s housing pledge, to hit its housing target of 2,200 homes being built by the end of 2031.

The housing pledge is tied to the Building Faster Fund program, a three-year $1.2 billion program to help municipalities exceed their provincially assigned housing targets, and Strong Mayor Powers which were received by Mayor Ken Boshcoff by confirming the city’s assigned housing target in a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on September 21, 2023.

Initially, the city was under the impression that a pledge was required, “to be eligible for these funds the City must submit a housing pledge identifying the strategies and actions to meet that target.” from a report prepared by Joel DePeuter, City of Thunder Bay Director of Development Services.

Before the council’s opening discussion on the housing pledge Deputer updated the province’s stance on the pledge “By letter from the Minister, we are advised that approval of the housing pledge is not a requirement to access or remain eligible for the building faster fund.”

Deputer added that in the same letter, the Ontario Government stated Thunder Bay’s housing target for 2023 was set at 161, which he was optimistic the city would hit.

Despite the pledge no longer being mandatory, the city still must hit a minimum amount of units built to receive funding.

“Municipalities that achieve 80% or more of their annual target will be able to access a portion of their allocation. Those that exceed their target will be eligible to receive additional funding. The Building Faster Fund provides double the funding for every one percent above 100% of a municipality’s target.” said Deputer

The city’s housing target is 0.147% of the province’s 1.5 million new home target. If the percentage of the housing target is equal to the percentage of funding from the Building Faster Fund, then Thunder Bay will receive an estimated 586,666 from the fund.

Councillor Andrew Foulds questioned how helpful the fund really is “How does $600,000, I’ll take it but… how is this going to get more houses built? I wanna manage expectations. We have to get 80% we have to hit 80% even to get the 600 grand.”

The city made it clear that more money would be more helpful, but every dollar makes a difference.

City council will receive updates as progress is made toward the housing target.