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Energy efficiency, net-zero prominent in $2-million Sustainable Affordable Housing initiative


June 1, 2021
By Anthony Capkun


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June 1, 2021 – The Government of Canada and Federation of Canadian Municipalities say they created the Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH) initiative as recognition that municipalities and affordable housing providers “face a unique challenge presented by an aging housing stock, rising energy costs and increasing demand for affordable housing”.

Through the initiative, Ottawa and FCM are investing over $2 million into 34 plans, studies and pilots in communities across Canada. Local affordable housing providers will be able to leverage this investment to retrofit existing affordable housing or build new, energy-efficient units, explain the partners.

Recipients and their projects

• YWCA Banff (Banff, Alta.): An affordable net-zero energy-ready (NZER) pilot in Banff. Grant amount $500,000.

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• Sunnyhill Housing Co-operative Ltd. (Calgary, Alta.): Feasibility study for retrofitting existing townhouses and building a new net zero multi-unit building. Grant amount $112,765.

• Alberta Rural Development Network (Edmonton, Alta.): Affordable housing retrofit in Edmonton. Grant amount $24,000.

PROJECT NOTES: The plan is to renovate an existing building space into a mixed-market unit complex with office space. For the renovation, Alberta Rural Development Network plans to improve energy efficiency by a minimum of 25% and will aim for an NZER standard (if financially feasible). Planned energy efficiency measures include a highly-insulated building envelope, power generation from solar or geothermal energy sources, triple-pane windows, and LED lighting with sensors.

• GEF Seniors Housing (Edmonton, Alta.): Feasibility study for Lauderdale Terrace. Grant amount $175,000.

• Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society (Comox, B.C.): Cypress Garden, NZER affordable housing plan. Grant amount $25,000.

• Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society (Fruitvale, B.C.): Fruitvale NZER multi-use redevelopment plan. Grant amount $25,000.

• Alberni Low-Energy Housing Society (Port Alberni, B.C.): Achieve energy efficiency in an existing 11-unit building. Grant amount $25,000.

• Qualicum Parksville Kiwanis Housing Society (Qualicum Beach, B.C.): Aiming for a NZER 50-unit new construction. Grant amount $25,000.

• Metro Vancouver Housing Corp. (Port Coquitlam, B.C.): NZER feasibility study, Welcher Avenue affordable housing. Grant amount $96,995.

• Harriet Street Seniors Housing Inc. (Winnipeg, Man.): A possible NZER affordable housing project for seniors. Grant amount $25,000.

PROJECT NOTES: Harriet Street Senior Housing Inc. will complete a series of preliminary activities to support the feasibility of an NZER accessible 50-unit construction for seniors. The results will help the organization access additional SAH funding for a study and subsequent capital project, which could become one of the first NZER affordable senior housing developments in Canada.

• University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corp. (Winnipeg, Man.): Higher energy efficiency targets for a new affordable housing construction. Grant amount $25,000.

• Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation (Winnipeg, Man.): Targeting energy efficiency for four buildings. Grant amount $25,000.

• Bethel Mennonite Care Services Inc. (Winnipeg, Man.): Deep energy retrofit for an existing 139-unit complex. Grant amount $19,300.

• Spruce Woods Housing Co-operative (Brandon, Man.): Deep retrofits to increase affordability in 81 units in Brandon. Grant amount $21,750.

• Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (County of Antigonish, N.S.): Feasibility study for small-scale, net-zero housing with Antigonish Affordable Housing Society. Grant amount $36,500.

PROJECT NOTES: The study will canvass the feasibility of the energy model and complete architectural designs. Building on successes from a previous energy-efficient affordable housing project, this development will have 14 two-and three-bedroom units, all below 80% of median market rent for Antigonish. Proposed energy measures include high-efficiency heating/cooling units, energy-efficient lighting, highly-insulated building envelope, and optimized onsite solar energy.

• Nepean Housing Corp. (Ottawa, Ont.): Feasibility study for NZER affordable housing in Ottawa. Grant amount $65,625.

• Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corp. (Ottawa, Ont.): Design charrette for a 49-unit, fully electric multi-unit residential buildings. Grant amount $25,000.

• Thresholds Homes and Supports Inc. (Kitchener, Ont.): Aiming for NZER 25-unit new construction. Grant amount $23,360.

• Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corp. (Blue Mountains, Ont.): Feasibility study for attaining housing demonstration project. Grant amount $152,620.

• County of Northumberland (Ont.): Social housing needs assessment plan. Grant amount $25,000.

• Places for People Haliburton Highlands Inc. (Municipality of Dysart et al, Ont.): Affordable housing development. Grant amount $25,000.

• Kenora District Services Board (Kenora, Ont.): Aiming for NZER 54-unit new construction for seniors. Grant amount $13,840.

• Kenora District Services Board (Dryden, Ont.): Feasibility study for net-zero affordable housing for seniors. Grant amount $43,570.

• Supportive Housing of Waterloo (Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ont.): Retrofit plan for supportive housing of seniors’ residence. Grant amount $14,500.

• Clintwood Non-profit Housing Co-operative Inc. (Toronto, Ont.): Clintwood co-op NZER retrofit. Grant amount $19,600.

• Toronto Artscape Inc. (Toronto, Ont.): Feasibility of increasing energy performance and efficiency at Artscape Wychwood Barns. Grant amount $147,820.

• Wigwamen Inc. (Toronto, Ont.): Increase energy efficiency of a building for the Indigenous population. Grant amount $16,640.

PROJECT NOTES: Wigwamen will complete some preliminary activities to support retrofit decisions for an existing 115-unit building that is primarily focused on providing decent affordable housing to families and individuals of Aboriginal ancestry in Toronto. The grant will support Wigwamen in hiring an energy consulting firm to conduct an energy evaluation of the HVAC system and building envelope, including insulation and windows. Wigwamen will identify retrofit measures that would achieve a 25% energy reduction and prepare for a capital project.

• Workforce Housing Non-profit Corp. (Mississauga, Ont.): Development of a proposal for a 1200+ unit, mixed-housing affordable community build. Grant amount $25,000.

• Community Seniors Co-operative Ltd. (O’Leary, P.E.I.): Feasibility study for seniors’ residence. Grant amount $175,000.

• Cohabitat Wakefield (Municipality of La Pêche, Que.): Net-zero plan for 32 affordable housing units in Wakefield. Grant amount $24,480.

• Habitations Maska (Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.): Planning. Grant amount $25,000.

• Maison des aînés de Saint-Amable (Municipality of Saint-Amable, Que.): Net-Zero plan. Grant amount $25,000.

PROJECT NOTES: The Maison will examine the financial feasibility of energy savings and affordability of units in a new 40-unit residence for independent seniors. It will determine which targets will be achievable by assessing various energy-saving scenarios, such as net-zero, a reduction in energy use of 55% and above, or a reduction of between 41% and 55%.

• Fiducie foncière communautaire Québec (Québec, Que.): Feasibility study for new multiple-dwelling project, the Dorimène housing cooperative. Grant amount $52,140.

• National Affordable Housing Corp. (Regina, Sask.): Plan for affordable NZER Plainsview Townhomes. Grant amount $19,736.

Ottawa endowed the $300-million SAH initiative as part of a $950-million expansion of FCM’s Green Municipal Fund in Budget 2019. The initiative assists municipal providers, not-for-profit organizations or housing cooperatives with grants, loans and “capacity-building resources” to support “ambitious energy efficiency standards in the construction and retrofitting of affordable housing”.

DOWNLOAD the SAH Application Guide (PDF): SAH-application-guide-gmf April2021