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Mike Moffatt: Canada's housing crisis demands a war-time effort
Speed, not micromanagement
The federal cabinet held a three-day retreat in Charlottetown, PEI this week, and it sounds like they spent a fair amount of time on housing. Mike Moffatt and Tim Richter made a presentation to the cabinet on housing, presumably drawing on the ideas proposed in the National Housing Accord.
The Hub published an op-ed by Moffatt on Monday: Canada’s housing crisis demands a war-time effort. This is the third time that Canada has faced a housing shortage like this: there were also major shortages in the 1940s, after World War II, and in the 1960s, when the Baby Boomers moved out on their own.
Moffatt’s ideas for the federal government:
Identify more productive construction methods, like prefab.
Create a free catalogue of designs pre-approved by CMHC.
Build homes directly.
Make tax changes so that market rental housing is more economically viable, like waiving the GST/HST on new rental housing.
Provide infrastructure funding as an incentive for municipalities to reform their zoning restrictions.
We should view this strategy as an investment, not a cost, as the economic opportunities are enormous. New housing will allow workers to live closer to opportunities, and scaling up these technologies creates manufacturing jobs across Canada and new products to export worldwide.
The key to this industrial strategy working is speed. The federal government must avoid setting up new approvals processes and micromanaging the system. Instead, it should set straightforward standards, and as long as those standards are met, approvals should be granted and payments made. New infrastructure funding to municipalities should not be on a project application basis, as it slows the process, and cities know best what they need.
We are in a crisis, and a war-time-like effort is needed. The federal government must prioritize speed and act now.
An interview with Mike Moffatt on the Big Story podcast (23 minutes):
The National Housing Accord, co-authored by Moffatt, Richter, and Michael Brooks.
Working Together To Build 1.5 Million Homes. A report just published by Moffatt which focuses on Ontario, drawing on similar ideas.
Interview with Sean Fraser, the new federal housing minister, by Vassy Kapelos. Definitely the biggest question is how to deal with the scale of the housing shortage - not just hundreds of thousands of additional homes, but millions, especially in Ontario and BC.
Hawaii has declared a state of emergency due to its housing shortage, and suspended local land-use rules for one year.