Housing Accelerator Fund – Keep the money or give it back?

Housing Accelerator Fund – Keep the money or give it back?

On January 17th, our MP Chris Bittle announced an investment in the City of St. Catharines of $25.7 million dollars from the Housing Accelerator Fund. This investment is transformational for our city.

At our council meeting on January 29th, we recieved a presentation from our CAO about the funding agreement and the initiatives that the money will be funding. The #1 initiative is the creation of a Municipal Development Corporation (MDC).

We immediately had a councillor ask that we remove the MDC from the plan and that we could we use the money elsewhere.

We heard very clearly from our CAO and the Mayor that the terms of the funding cannot be changed and that if we did not meet the terms of the agreement – there was a possibility that we wouldn’t recieve the funding.

Another councillor suggested that staff didn’t let council know that the MDC was part of the application and that council hadn’t approved the creation of a Municipal Development Corporation.

On May 29, 2023, as a council we approved in principle the creation of a Municipal Development Corporation.  The approval meant that staff would be coming back to us to present an implementation strategy.  At that meeting the biggest concern was how we would fund the creation of it.  The Housing Accelerator Fund money will allow us to do that.

And on August 14, 2023 council recieved a memo outlining the application to the Housing Accelerator Fund that included the 7 inititavites that would be included in the application. The memo was approved 13-0.

All l can say is look at what is now happening in Windsor. They chose to not follow through on a requirement of the funding and now a $70 million grant is possibly going to be withheld.

We ask staff to be innovative. We ask them to find ways to fund new initiaves without increasing property taxes. They did both of these things.

I could be wrong but I don’t think that the residents of the City of St. Catharines want us to give back $25.7 million.

What do you think?