Minister in Old Aylmer for housing unveiling
----British Square secures fed-backed loan for affordable housing
Affordable housing units for nine families are going into the British Hotel and Café’s housing development on Principale in Old Aylmer. Recently announcing a $24.63 million low-cost loan to the British Square residential project, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) should help nine families benefit from affordable housing in Aylmer in the near future.
According to a press release issued by the CMHC on June 2, rent prices for the project’s 84 units will be well below 30 per cent of the local median household income - 70 per cent of the 30 per cent salary threshold - and will be maintained with affordable rates for at least 11 years. Stating that the project shows a strong affordability rate, the CMHC says at least nine of the units will meet or exceed the city’s accessibility requirements, at least two should be adaptable, and two would be universally designed.
The goal is to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20.4 per cent compared to the National Energy Code for Buildings’ requirements – Canada 2015. Noting that the project is situated in the heart of Old Aylmer, the CMHC says the project will bring much needed housing near public transportation arteries, schools, and other services.
Emphasizing that everyone deserves a safe and affordable home, Minister of Families, Children, and social development and Minister responsible for the CMHC, Ahmed Hussen said it was important for the feds to take the necessary measures to make high quality housing more accessible in Aylmer. “The British Square will offer families better access to jobs, services, and commodities that they need,” Hussen said in the press release, adding that he’s hopeful that more investments in affordable housing will be made in Gatineau soon.
Located on 71-79 rue Principale, the British Square project, led by the British Hotel’s owner Mike Clemman, consists of a five-storey residential complex with a mezzanine floor on the roof. Boasting 84 units, the project also includes seven studios, 50 one-bedroom units, and 27 two-bedroom units. The project should also include two underground parking lots (85 spots). Ideally located and set to include or be close to all the services and amenities one can think of, Clemman “People who live here will be able to take short talks towards the Ottawa river and take advantage of all the other natural and cultural elements that make life in Aylmer so charming and unique,” Clemman said in the press release.
Hussen explained that the funding comes from the CMHC’s Rental Construction Financing Initiative (RCFI), which is a 10-year $70-plus-billion program from the National Housing Strategy (NHS) promoting the development of affordable housing projects to help stabilise the high-end housing market for middle class families. Hussen told the Aylmer Bulletin that the RCFI program is intended to incentivize development companies to build more rental units instead of condos in large cities by providing low-cost loans. Stating that vacancy rates in urban areas have risen considerably as a result of the pandemic, Hussein said the feds will use it as an opportunity to turn unused spaces into homes for Canadians in cities.
Hussen says stable housing supply is necessary to allow people access to safe and affordable housing, and calls it an optimal option for middle class families struggling to afford housing with rising prices and a lack of rental supply. Using the RCFI – established in April 2017 - the federal government is supporting the development of 71,000 rental units nationwide.
In its 2019 budget, the feds increased the amount of loans available for affordable housing development to $13.5 billion, before adding another $12 billion over seven years – starting in 2020-2021 - during the Fall 2020 Economic Statement. Altogether, the RCFI program boasts $25.75 billion in low-cost loans available. As another means of helping make affordable housing more accessible, the feds are planning to allocate another $2.5 billion over seven years, and to reallocate $1.3 billion of previously announced funding to facilitate the development of more than 35,000 homes.
Between 2021 and 2023, the feds plan to allocate $300 million from the RCFI to help convert vacant commercial spaces into 800 market rental units. The CMHC is the country’s housing authority and is responsible for helping stabilize Canada’s housing market and economy, help people find homes, and provide research and consultation to all levels of government, consumers, and housing industry representatives.