The federal government will provide Charlottetown with $10 million through the Housing Accelerator Fund as part of an agreement to fast-track 300 housing units over the next three years.
Charlottetown has agreed to make changes to its building permits and zoning as part of the agreement. Those changes include:
- A new official plan that will enable more medium-density housing.
- Allowing up to four units on existing residential lots.
- Building heights will be increased from six to eight storeys near post-secondary institutions and in high-growth areas.
- Expediting the permitting of accessory dwelling units.
- Reducing parking requirements.
- Improved building permit processes, including e-permitting.
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said the funding will help increase net residential density in the city and provide administrative support to complete an overhaul of its official plan.
“What’s in the hopper already … will surpass that 300 [homes] and we want to go beyond that because of the increase in our population,” he said.
“The 300, is it achievable? Yes. Will we go beyond it? Yes. So I’m very confident that the number … is just a base. We’re going to work from that.”
P.E.I.’s housing situation has been described as a crisis since 2018, when the apartment vacancy rate fell to 0.3 per cent.
The crisis has been driven by unprecedented population growth, which has been running between three and four per cent a year.
The most recent population numbers, measuring growth from Oct. 31, 2022 to Oct. 31, 2023, show Prince Edward Island added about 6,700 residents.
With an average of 2.3 people per household on the Island, that puts the requirement for homes for those new residents at 2,900.
But according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the province managed only 1,139 housing starts in 2023.
More large projects coming, Lantz says
Federal and provincial politicians in attendance at Friday’s announcement offered assurances that the 300 homes was only the beginning for P.E.I.’s capital city.
“I believe it isn’t anywhere near as ambitious as what will actually happen,” said Charlottetown MP Sean Casey. “There are some very robust plans on the books [and] developers are chomping at the bit to do their part for the housing crisis. These changes that will be financed by the government of Canada will allow for that to happen quicker.”
Rob Lantz, P.E.I.’s minister of Housing, Land and Communities, hopes the funding helps Charlottetown complete its revamped official plan, which has been in the works since 2018.
“I’m personally aware of some extraordinarily large projects that are coming down the line here in Charlottetown, and this city’s going to need all the resources it can muster to get all these projects through the process and approved, but with this funding, that’s going to help,” Lantz said.