Housing is not a core service or mandate of Saskatchewan municipalities. Understandably, some municipal councils are not willing to engage their administrations or devote scarce resources to address housing issues. On the flip side, there is a very valuable role that municipalities can play to help increase the supply of affordable housing. Many cities in Saskatchewan have adopted housing strategies or offer financial incentives to increase the supply of affordable housing.
This short summary highlights how some Saskatchewan municipalities have dedicated available resources to increase affordable housing supply.
City of Saskatoon
Saskatoon developed a comprehensive Housing Business Plan in 2008. The City was prepared to address some serious affordable housing supply issues by dedicating $2.5 million dollars per year for five years to increase the supply of affordable housing. A target of 500 new units per year was adopted by city council. The Housing Business Plan engaged the community and for-profit development companies towards meeting the target. Although the City has reduced funding available for affordable housing, it continues to offer innovative land, financial and policy incentives towards increasing supply of housing specifically for affordable rentals and housing for people at risk of homelessness.
City of Regina
The City of Regina also developed a new Housing Incentives Program in response to rapid growth and dramatic rises in housing costs. The incentives offered by Regina are extensive and focused on important policy objectives. Most formats of affordable housing are supported as well as market ownership and rental developments. In 2019, approximately $2.5 million dollars was allocated towards various projects in support of key housing objectives.
City of North Battleford
The City of North Battleford received a new Housing Strategy in 2018. The city has a very dedicated community-based group of stakeholders who are willing to devote time to creating an environment for more affordable housing. At present, the City is in the process of implementing the housing strategy with a focus on increasing residential development activity across the city.
City of Moose Jaw
The City of Moose Jaw updated its Housing Strategy in 2018. The update included identifying the priorities for housing and a set of policy and financial strategies to increase affordable housing supply. The City of Moose Jaw currently has a well-funded housing reserve and is exploring the best ways to use this reserve funding. The current focus is on supporting infill development with a tax abatement.
Levels of support for affordable housing vary across municipalities. At a minimum, all municipalities can provide non-financial support by rezoning and assembling land and leading by dispelling myths about affordable housing with facts and evidence-based information to combat NIMBY (not in my back yard) within their communities.