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Building homes on public lands

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One of the biggest pressures on people right now is housing. Young Canadians are being priced out of their communities. Families are finding it difficult to get a good place to settle down. Rising rents and the high cost of buying a home are making it more difficult for younger generations to find a place to call home. We need more homes in Canada and we need to keep them affordable.

Right now, governments across Canada are sitting on surplus, underused, and vacant public lands, like empty office towers or low-rise buildings that could be built on. By unlocking more public lands for housing, we can lower the costs of construction and build more homes, faster, at prices Canadians can afford.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today highlighted new measures included in Budget 2024 and Canada’s Housing Plan to build more affordable homes on public lands – and make housing fairer for every generation.

Canada’s Housing Plan lays out a bold strategy to unlock 3.87 million new homes across the country by 2031, including 250,000 homes through a new Public Lands for Homes Plan that includes:

  • Reviewing the federal government’s entire portfolio of federally owned land and properties to rapidly identify sites where new homes can be built.
  • Making more land available for housing by identifying and building on underutilized public lands as well as acquiring new lands.
  • Leasing public lands as opposed to selling them off so public land stays public and affordable homes stay affordable.
  • Launching a new public land bank and mapping tool to help homebuilders more easily identify and navigate public lands.
  • Introducing legislation to facilitate the acquisition and use of public lands for homes, in partnership with other orders of government.
  • Accelerating administrative timelines to make public lands available for affordable housing faster.

We will also make better use of existing land. This includes:

  • Building homes on Canada Post properties. With a large portfolio of land, Canada Post has more than 1,700 post offices in over 1,700 communities across the country. Many of these sites often house one-storey Canada Post buildings, which could be leveraged to build new homes across the country, while maintaining Canada Post services.
  • Building homes on National Defence lands. National Defence owns property in every province and territory, and these properties are often underutilized. We’ll redevelop National Defence properties that are suitable for military and civilian use and divest surplus properties that are not required for National Defence operations but have the potential for housing.
  • Converting underused federal offices into homes. The federal government owns a lot of office buildings and half of them are either underused or entirely vacant. We’ll reduce our office footprint, convert these offices into homes – especially in urban areas – and prioritize student housing and affordable housing.

Alongside these measures, Budget 2024 will also:

  • Provide $500 million to launch a new public lands acquisition fund, which will buy land from other orders of government to help build middle-class homes.
  • Top-up the Federal Lands Initiative with $117 million to unlock more federal lands for affordable housing providers, with a minimum of 1,500 homes.
  • Make public lands available more quickly by scaling up the Centre of Expertise on Disposals. With an investment of $20 million, Public Services and Procurement Canada will advance collaboration with key government and industry partners.
  • Invest $15 million in the recently announced Public Land Bank and mapping tool. This funding will develop a public land bank, including an interactive geo-spatial mapping tool to better plan the use of public lands.
  • Support and expand the activities of the Canada Lands Company through an investment of $5 million to build more homes on public lands.

We will continue to explore ways to leverage our low-cost financing, including through our new Canada Builds initiative, to encourage provinces and territories to build more homes, including on their public lands. Changing the way we build housing to solve the housing crisis will take a Team Canada effort, and no single order of government, home builder, not-for-profit, or community can do it alone. We need every order of government doing their part to build the homes Canadians need.

We’re building more homes and making sure they’re affordable – and it’s just one of the things included in Budget 2024. Alongside these measures, we’re investing in innovation, growing our economy, strengthening health care, and making life more affordable so that every generation can get ahead.


“We have a lot of public land in Canada that’s underused or vacant. With Budget 2024, we’re unlocking this land for construction and building thousands of new homes – so that you have a good place to call your own, at a price you can afford. We’re cutting red tape, building more homes, and making the housing market fairer for every generation.”

“Our plan is about fairness for every generation. Over the past weeks, we’ve been sharing with Canadians our new and ambitious plan to solve the housing crisis – and to help ensure that Canadians, especially younger Canadians, are better able to afford their rent or mortgage payments. We are turbocharging the construction of more homes and making housing more affordable for everyone.”

“Public lands can help play a major role in building more homes faster and making housing more affordable. With Budget 2024, we are accelerating the process of converting surplus federal properties into housing and enabling the construction of additional housing units. In doing so, we will restore the promise of Canada, where every generation can afford a place to call home.”

“In order to overcome the housing crisis, we need to work with partners across the country. And by unlocking public lands, we will do just that – to help build more homes for Canadians at prices they can afford.”

Quick Facts

  • In Budget 2024, the Government of Canada also announced it is urgently unlocking five federal properties that will be leased to housing providers to build over 800 new homes:
    • Nearly 500 homes in Ottawa, Ontario.
    • Over 100 homes in Montréal, Quebec.
    • Nearly 100 homes in Calgary, Alberta.
    • One hundred homes in Toronto, Ontario.
    • Over 40 homes in Edmonton, Alberta.
  • The federal government will launch a new Public Lands Action Council this spring to spur collaboration and equip all players – from government departments to industry experts – with the tools they need to build homes on public lands. The Council will bring together key stakeholders to identify specific lands across Canada with high potential for housing and take concerted action to accelerate construction on these lands. This group will also help shape the federal government’s approach to building homes on public lands.
  • A new Deputy Minister of Public Lands and Housing position has also been created within the Privy Council Office. The Deputy Minister will oversee and report on federal efforts to build more homes for Canadians through the use of public lands, providing a single point of accountability within the public service. An appointment to this role was announced recently.
  • On April 12, 2024, the federal government released its ambitious housing plan, Solving the housing crisis: Canada’s Housing Plan, supported by new investments from Budget 2024. At the heart of this plan lies a commitment to make housing affordable so that no hard-working Canadian spends more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. The plan acknowledges the diverse needs of Canadians and is centred around these three pillars:
    • Making it easier to own or rent a home by ensuring that every renter or homeowner has a home that suits their needs, and the stability to retain it.
    • Helping Canadians who can’t afford a home by building more affordable housing for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, equity-deserving communities, and eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada.
  • Building more homes by bringing down the costs of homebuilding, helping cities make it easier to build homes at a faster pace, changing the way Canadian homebuilders manufacture homes, and growing the workforce to ensure we get the job done.
  • The Government of Canada’s Budget 2024 was tabled in the House of Commons by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on April 16, 2024.
  • Budget 2024 announced the government’s intention to launch a new Canada Post Housing Program to help affordable housing providers build on disposed or leased Canada Post properties. Details will be available later this year.
  • To help solve Canada’s housing crisis, Budget 2024 also proposes to:
    • Restore generational fairness for renters, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, by taking new action to protect renters’ rights and unlock pathways for them to become homeowners. Learn more.
    • Launch a new $6 billion Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund to accelerate the construction or upgrade of essential infrastructure across the country and get more homes built for Canadians. Learn more.
    • Top-up the Apartment Construction Loan Program with $15 billion, make new reforms so it is easier to access, and launch Canada Builds to call on all provinces and territories to join a Team Canada effort to build more homes, faster. Learn more.
    • Support renters by launching a new $1.5 billion Canada Rental Protection Fund to preserve more rental homes and make sure they stay affordable. Learn more.
    • Change the way we build homes in Canada by announcing over $600 million to make it easier and cheaper to build more homes, faster, including through a new Homebuilding Technology and Innovation Fund and a new Housing Design Catalogue. Learn more.
  • Canada is already building more homes faster and making housing more affordable through:
    • The Apartment Construction Loan Program, a $40 billion initiative that will be topped up with an additional $15 billion in Budget 2024 to boost the construction of new rental homes by providing low-cost financing to homebuilders. Since 2017, the Apartment Construction Loan Program has committed over $18 billion in loans to support the creation of more than 48,000 new rental homes. With our recently announced measures, the Apartment Construction Loan Program is now on track to help build over 131,000 new rental homes across Canada by 2031-32.
    • The Affordable Housing Fund, a $14+ billion initiative that supports the creation of new market and below-market rental housing and the repair and renewal of existing housing. It is designed to attract partnerships and investments to develop projects that meet a broad spectrum of housing needs, from shelters to affordable homeownership. As of December 31, 2023, the Fund has committed $8+ billion to repair or renew over 150,000 homes and support the construction of more than 32,000 new homes.
    • The Housing Accelerator Fund, a $4 billion initiative that will be topped up with an additional $400 million in Budget 2024 to encourage municipalities to incentivize building by making transformative changes, such as removing prohibitive zoning barriers. To date, the federal government has signed 179 Housing Accelerator Fund agreements which, combined, will fast-track an estimated total of over 750,000 housing units across the country over the next decade.
    • The Rapid Housing Initiative, a $4 billion fund that is fast-tracking the construction of 15,500 new affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness or in severe housing need by 2026. The Rapid Housing Initiative also supports the acquisition of existing buildings for the purpose of rehabilitation or conversion to permanent affordable housing units, focusing on the housing needs of the most vulnerable, including people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, women fleeing domestic violence, seniors, Indigenous Peoples, and persons with disabilities.
  • Progress on these and other programs and initiatives under Canada’s National Housing Strategy are updated quarterly at The Housing Funding Initiatives Map shows housing projects that have been developed.
  • Since 2015, the federal government has helped almost two million Canadians find a place to call home.

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