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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces $20.7 in funding for Thunder Bay through the Housing Accelerator Fund on Thursday March 29, 2024 (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

Federal investment to help build 600 homes in 3 years

By CJ Goater Feb 29, 2024 | 2:29 PM

In a visit to Thunder Bay on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an agreement has been made with the City of Thunder Bay to build over 600 new housing units over the next three years, with an overall goal of more than 6,500 homes over the next decade.

The funding for the homes is coming through the Housing Accelerator Fund, and the agreement will provide $20.7 million to build more homes.

Trudeau announced the money while touring Smart Modular Canada, which manufactures modular homes just west of the city.

Initially the city had requested over $40 million, more than half of what was announced Thursday, but Trudeau says this funding stream is turning traditional ways on its head by addressing the peripheral aspects of new home construction, as the status quo for home-building isn’t working.

“We’re changing the way things are done, we’re changing the permitting process, we’re changing the availability. A homeowner who decides to build a garden suite or a secondary home on their property, that may not be calculated into the predictions we’re making already.”

Some of those changes include the creation of more housing options in the city, such as more multi-unit and affordable housing projects with up to four homes per lot.

The city plans to turn vacant and underused property downtown into new housing and plans to re-zone commercial areas, fast-track development approvals, and put incentives and grants in place to get more housing projects off the ground.

While considerably less what was requested, municipal officials say they are excited to see this money go to work.

“The City of Thunder Bay is all in on new housing and is working hard to set the stage for new housing development. Our focus is in line with the federal government’s goal of building as many homes as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Mayor of Thunder Bay Ken Boshcoff. “We have adopted most of the top 10 Housing Accelerator Fund best practices, incentivizing a broad range of housing development. Thunder Bay welcomes this partnership with the federal government and is prepared for the growth which aligns with our strategic plan enacted by Council.”

The City will also create a dedicated team to recommend systemic changes and work with non-profit organizations, community organizations, advocacy groups, and home builders to reduce construction costs.