Making announcement, Vimy MP Koutrakis emphasizes the value of having a home
“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” the federal government said in a statement last week, as Vimy MP Annie Koutrakis and Minister of Families Ahmed Hussen were announcing that Ottawa is providing more than $66 million in loans for the creation of 193 new rental housing units in Laval.
Close to the mall
Hussen, who is responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), said during the webcast announcement that the new housing units, to be located at 3410 Le Carrefour Blvd. a short distance from the Carrefour Laval mall, will provide various living options, and will be close to public transit, schools and services for families in Laval.
Central Park Laval, as the development is to be known, will be an impressive 18-storey residential building, according to its developer, who is receiving a low-cost loan through the federal government’s Rental Construction Financing initiative (RCFi), a National Housing Strategy CMHC program that supports rental housing construction projects.
According to the CMHC, the program’s purpose, which is in line with current Liberal government economic policy favouring support for middle-income families, is to encourage the maintenance of a stable supply of rental housing in Canada, “to support middle-class families facing expensive housing markets,” the housing agency says.
“Every Quebecer deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” Husssen said during a webcast press conference.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that our investments meet the housing needs of residents here in Laval and across the country. We will continue to increase the supply of rental units, while creating well-paying middle-class jobs and strengthening our economy.”
No place like home
Koutrakis noted the significance of the government’s decision to support the project, while taking into account the challenges now being faced by Canadians and Quebecers during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. “Current events remind us that nothing is more important than a home,” she said.
“By supporting this new project, we are providing housing options that are closer to jobs, services and amenities for Laval families. We believe that every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home and through the National Housing Strategy, investments like the one we are announcing today bring us closer to achieving this goal.”
Supplying the market
“The RCFi accelerated our ability to quickly add essential housing to an undersupplied market,” said Loren Michaud, a representative of Saroukian Group, the developer that is building the project.
“Critically, along with the affordability requirement, the framework ensures that the product is constructed with quality, accessibility and environmental efficiency as foundational concepts. We are very excited with the result, which is both affordable and something most Canadians would be proud to call home.”
According to the government, annual rents at 106 of the 193 units in the building are expected to be well below 30 per cent of the median household income in the area. As well, the affordable rent levels will be maintained for a minimum of 16 years from the date of first occupancy.
Demand for rentals
The government says the 193 units will serve to meet a strong demand for rental units, as Laval’s current vacancy rate stood at 2 per cent as of October 2020. The project will also have barrier free access (accessibility regardless of age, disability or other factors). At least 22 of the units are expected to offer universal design and meet local accessibility standards.
‘We believe that every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home’
The building is designed to achieve a minimum 22.1 per cent decrease in energy-intensity and a 15.6 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, relative to the requirements in the 2015 National Energy Code for Buildings.
Billions being invested
The government says that, through the RCFi, it is encouraging the construction of more than 71,000 new rental housing units. Launched in April 2017, the RCFi has generated significant interest in the housing industry, leading in turn to an expansion of the program.
In the 2019 federal budget, the federal government increased the total amount available in RCFi loans to $13.75 billion. Given the high demand, the government says it again expanded the RCFi in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement by adding an additional $12 billion over 7 years, starting in 2021-22. The program now totals $25.75 billion in low-cost loans.