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Mayors frustrated as Langley misses out on federal housing funds

$4 billion fund already emptied, most applications failed
Single-family homes under construction in Langley Township in November, 2023. (Langley Advance Times files)

Mayors in Langley Township and City were upset after learning late last week that neither city will receive federal housing funds, after the $4 billion program has depleted all its money.

The Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) has been sending money from Ottawa to cities and towns across Canada, with the money coming in exchange for the municipalities changing their bylaws, allowing more homebuilding, faster, and often with greater density than previously allowed.

The program, administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) received more than 500 applications, and “demand for the program significantly exceeded the available budget,” said CMHC spokesperson David Harris.

In the Lower Mainland, Vancouver and Surrey made successful applications, but Langley City and Langley Township’s applications were not accepted, at least not before the program ran out of cash.

“The Township of Langley is the only recognized ‘growth leader’ to not receive funding from the Housing Accelerator Fund program,” said Township Mayor Eric Woodward.

He said federal officials specifically told the Township not to apply with an innovative proposal.

“With this, it’s clear to me that we have a federal government more concerned about photo opportunities than actually building more housing,” Woodward said. “It is a wasteful handout of $4 billion to selected areas that instead could have actually made a difference in municipalities like ours that are doubling the national average for growth rates, yet we receive nothing.”

City Mayor Nathan Pachal was also disappointed. He noted that Surrey is the only community South of the Fraser to receive HAF money, despite this being the fastest-growing area of Metro Vancouver.

Langley City has a SkyTrain line coming within four years, has zoned half the community for higher densities, and has a proven track record of building new housing, Pachal noted.

But the number of applications for HAF money, at more than 500, dwarfed the number that were accepted.

“Only 150 were successful,” Pachal said.

He noted that is a challenge with programs that are set up on a competitive basis.

“We need to be building this throughout the country,” said Pachal.

The HAF had a single application window, and all its funds are now committed to various projects.

The CMHC is committed to working with all the applicants on housing solutions for their communities, said Harris.

The federal government says its deals with cities under the plan will see 750,000 homes built over the next 10 years.

READ ALSO: UZELMAN: The federal Liberals and the chasm between housing supply and demand


Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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