‘The solutions are out there’: National housing crisis top of mind for mayors at municipalities conference

Canada’s mayors and municipality leaders have congregated in Regina for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference this week. It is the first in-person meeting since 2019.

Delegates from the federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions are making pitches to each other on how to better the lives of Canadians.

The pandemic has increased the need for affordable housing across the county. Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said each jurisdiction has a part to play.

“It’s not something municipalities can do on our own,” she said. “I think what you’re hearing from municipalities is we’re prepared to play our part, but we need the other levels of government to play theirs as well.”

FCM big city mayors’ caucus chair and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage believed federal programs like the Housing Accelerator Fund has the ability to create change across the country.

The fund aims to remove barriers and help municipalities build housing more quickly in an ambitious and innovative manner.

“When it comes to housing and homelessness, the feds have the money; the provinces have the jurisdictions; the cities have the problem,” said Savage. “And it’s not just housing, but the right kind of housing. The solutions are out there.”

In Halifax, a rapid housing initiative created over 130 units for the houseless community, with the support of the Nova Scotian provincial government, spending $5 million on the project.

“We really do need the other orders of government to step up,” said Savage.

In Regina, the city partnered with community organizations to find temporary housing. The Saskatchewan government was able to provide the supports necessary in collaboration with the city.

Masters said making sure there are enough homes for people to move into is key.

“Not unlike every other city across our country, getting more [homes] built is paramount,” she said.

“People don’t want to hear about jurisdiction,” said Savage. “They want to see solutions.”

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