Regina city council will need to address zoning and density if it hopes to secure millions of dollars from the federal government. That was the message from Mayor Sandra Masters in response to questions about the city's application to the federal housing accelerator fund.
Council approved an application to the fund earlier this year. If the city receives approval, it could access up to $36.2 million, driving 1,100 permit approvals for housing units in Regina by 2026.
On Wednesday, Masters told media she'd recently met with federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser.
"They have given us feedback on our application of how to receive those net new units over and above what we — on a standard basis — get," Masters said.
The feedback will require council to clear the way for zoning changes that would allow more intensification, meaning construction of new buildings or additions to existing buildings that result in additional units, and increased density.
Masters did not provide details on what exactly the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation would like to see change in Regina but a motion facilitating the changes should come before council by the end of the year.
She wouldn't speculate on how it will be received by council.
Regina Mayor Sandra Masters says she's received feedback on the city's application. (Alexander Quon/CBC News)
The Housing Accelerator Fund is meant to increase a region's housing supply, and promote the development of affordable and diverse communities.
However, council has a mixed track record on things that the federal government's Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation describes as "best practices" for the housing accelerator fund.
That includes reducing or eliminating parking standards, such as the parking minimum currently employed by the City of Regina.
Back in July, city council narrowly voted down changes that would have increased the parking minimums in the city.
As a result, Regina kept the parking minimums it has used since 2019, which require one parking stall per unit for all residential types.
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Some councillors have also pushed back on increasing density in the city — which could prove to be a bad sign if Regina is hoping to gain access to the $4 billion housing accelerator fund.
Fraser has made it clear that not every municipality or city that applies for the fund will be given cash.
"If cities decide to do something less than their best offer, they will be competing for what's left in the fund after we've addressed the most ambitious applications," said Fraser earlier this week.
Ottawa has already approved some municipal applicants through the accelerator program, including Halifax, Hamilton and London, Ont.
Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser holds a press conference in the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)