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    Tecumseh nabs $4.4 million through Housing Accelerator Fund

    The Town of Tecumseh has joined dozens of municipalities across the country that will receive millions to build affordable housing.Article content

    Federal officials announced Monday that Tecumseh has been approved to secure $4.38 million over the next three years through the Canadian government’s $4-billion Housing Accelerator Fund.

    The positive news arrives just weeks after Ottawa rejected Windsor’s application to pocket $30 million — and possibly millions more if targets were met.

    “This is part of a longer pattern of Tecumseh being in the lead, being ambitious and building a really livable community,” said MP Irek Kusmierczyk (L — Windsor-Tecumseh).

    “It reflects what they’ve been doing for the last number of years. They’ve been very ambitious on transit, they’ve been very ambitious on attracting funding for parks and trails, like the Ganatchio Trail extension.

    “I give the mayor and council huge credit.”

    Over the next three years, Tecumseh must build an additional 137 units. The municipality has received 25 per cent of the funding upfront, with the remainder distributed in annual instalments, conditional on meeting specific targets.

    The federal government launched the program in March 2023 to help cut red tape and fast-track the construction of at least 100,000 new homes across Canada by 2025.

    Underlining just how competitive the Housing Accelerator Fund process was, Kusmierczyk said the total request from all applicants nearly doubled the program’s $4-billion cap. 

    Only 176 municipalities out of 500 applicants were successful in securing federal funds to meet their housing targets.
    “Tecumseh is thrilled to receive funding from the Housing Accelerator Fund, a critical initiative aimed at accelerating our efforts to build homes faster and provide Tecumseh residents with the spaces they need to live, grow, and call home,” said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara Monday.
    “The HAF funding will enable us to implement our Housing Action Plan and start a community conversation about the future of housing in Tecumseh.”

    Ottawa asked municipalities to adopt an “ambitious” approach to address the housing crisis. Securing funding was conditional on local government’s agreeing to amend their residential zoning regulations to allow fourplexes as-of-right.

    As-of-right approvals allow the property owner to develop the land without public hearings or a council vote on whether it conforms to zoning bylaws.

    The province of Ontario already authorized triplexes to be permitted as-of-right last year.

    “We were very ambitious in setting the terms, and the reason why is because it reflects the severity of the (housing) crisis,” said Kusmierczyk.

    “I think the Town of Tecumseh recognized that.”

    Tecumseh is now required to approve the construction of fourplexes in all areas, and expedite the process for applying to funding for additional housing growth-related projects.

    The town originally applied for $7.8 million from the Housing Accelerator Fund.

    Kusmierczyk said Tecumseh will implement nine initiatives under the Housing Accelerator Fund to guarantee the funding.

    These actions include pre-zoning land for fourplexes, providing information kits for residents interested in Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs), as well as waiving the permit fees for ADUs.

    Council is also being asked to pre-zone the town’s Mainstreets Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to accommodate “missing middle housing” — multi-unit residential buildings that fill the gap between single-family homes and large apartment complexes. These can take the shape of duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, and mid-rise apartment buildings.

    The town will also allow residential use in certain areas of Manning Road and commercial districts, expedite permits by implementing a new e-processing system, review parking requirements for new developments, and embed incentives and fee reductions for main-street rentals.

    A Housing Advisory Panel will also be created to make recommendations to council.

    “The bottom line for us is affordability, attainability for a lot of folks who want to move into this community and the ability for us to create some diversity in the type of housing to do that,” McNamara said.

    “It’s very important for us to be aggressive and progressive in putting houses on the market.”

    Both Tecumseh and Windsor sought funding from the Housing Accelerator Fund last summer.

    However, Windsor’s bid for federal housing dollars was rejected when the mayor and council chose not to permit four-unit developments on any residential lot within the city due to concerns about the potential impact on existing infrastructure.

    In a email to Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens on Jan. 31, federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser said “only the most ambitious communities will receive funding” and that the city’s application to the Housing Accelerator Fund was denied.

    The Housing Accelerator Fund does not mandate local governments to solely dedicate the funds to housing construction. Municipalities have the flexibility to use the funding to acquire land; construct drinking water, wastewater and waste management infrastructure; design additional public transit, and more.

    Addressing whether fourplexes as-of-right will burden the existing infrastructure in Tecumseh, McNamara said six-plexes are already being built and other multi-residential projects have already been built in the town with more planned.
    He added infrastructure improvement will be an early focus to speed up the launch of the more than seven projects ready to launch.

    “The status quo doesn’t work anymore,” McNamara said. “When you look at housing, the whole affordability peice, you need diversity in housing.

    “Let’s remember these four-plexes aren’t going to spring up like flower all over the place. There are requirements. They have to meet certain criteria – height restrictions, side-yard requirements, parking, infrastructure . . .

    “There’ll probably be some in certain areas. That’s the whole concept, the status quo is not the way to the future.”

    Since the province’s decision to waive triplexes as-of-right last year, only 26 permits were issued in Windsor, mostly in areas of high demand near the University of Windsor and St. Clair College.

    Besides, Kusmierczyk said the town will ultimately maintain control over where housing is built.

    “There is still going to be an opportunity for public feedback,” he said.

    “I think that was missing from the discussion from other communities like Windsor. The municipality still has control over things like height restrictions, setback restrictions, lot coverage, and whether there is enough infrastructure capacity in the neighbourhoods.”

    Despite missing out on up to $70 million of HAF funds, Kusmierczyk congratulated the City of Windsor’s announcement last week to invite housing development on four city-owned properties: the Caron Avenue parking lot, the Pelissier Street parking lot, the Roseland Golf and Curling Club clubhouse and parking lot, and the former W.D. Lowe property on Giles Boulevard.

    Windsor city staff had identified these sites as suitable for residential development last year during its application process to the Housing Accelerator Fund.

    03/04/2024 – Tecumseh nabs $4.4 million through Housing Accelerator Fund – The Windsor Star Madeline MazakDave Waddell