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Province unveils 5-year plan to build up P.E.I.'s housing market

The P.E.I. government released its long-awaited housing strategy on Friday, outlining 20 priorities aimed at increasing the number of homes in the province and their affordability. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
The P.E.I. government released its long-awaited housing strategy on Friday, outlining 20 priorities aimed at increasing the number of homes in the province and their affordability. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

The P.E.I. government released its five-year plan Friday for increasing the province's housing supply to address the Island's ongoing housing crisis.

The plan promises to identify "creative solutions and opportunities" alongside tenants, landlords, community groups, industry associations, developers and all levels of government.

P.E.I.'s population is expected to grow to 200,000 people within the next six years, but there has been no housing boom to support it.

Some estimates project as many as 2,600 new units will need to be constructed every year just to meet the growing demand for housing.

Housing Minister Rob Lantz says staff in his department are moving quickly to have an emergency shelter set up in Summerside.
Housing Minister Rob Lantz says staff in his department are moving quickly to have an emergency shelter set up in Summerside.

Housing Minister Rob Lantz says the province's strategy puts 'the health of all Islanders and the social and economic well-being of our communities first.' (Tony Davis/CBC)

"A house is much more than four walls and a roof. It can be a source of security, dignity and identity for many people," Housing, Land and Communities Minister Rob Lantz said in a news release about the strategy.

"By prioritizing housing, we put the health of all Islanders and the social and economic well-being of our communities first. Building together, we will navigate the road ahead and work towards a vision of all Islanders having access to adequate, affordable and suitable housing."

The plan outlines 20 priority actions to accelerate housing growth and make the market more affordable, including:

  • Provide incentives and financial supports for private sector and non-profit developments to increase the rental supply and focus on higher-density projects.

  • Review and modernize regulations to support housing supply increases and a variety of housing types and densities.

  • Invest in workforce and immigration strategies to retain and attract key skills to P.E.I. in areas that place pressure on the housing market.

  • Work with municipalities to help them build more homes faster.

  • Streamline building permitting processes.

  • Enhance access to the housing market with a supply of tiny and small homes.

  • Invest in government-owned social housing units.

  • Facilitate access to affordable housing units for low-income residents through government development and non-profit organizations.

  • Build a collaborative intervention model for unhoused or people at risk of being unhoused.

  • Work with community partners to streamline access to resources for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness

P.E.I.'s housing shortage has been described as a crisis since 2018.

Housing starts had started to grow in 2017, but peaked in 2019 at just 1,504 starts.

For years up until 2018, starts were below 1,000, and they have been above 1,000 since then. But the boom in new housing units appears to have peaked, and has not been sufficient to keep pace with the record population growth.

A day prior to releasing this housing plan, government released a new population strategy aimed at slowing the province's rate of population growth, in part by whittling down its federal immigration nominations.