The owners of abandoned offices and commercial buildings in the country’s city centers will be encouraged to convert them into housing.
“We will support the conversion of the vacant office space that has sprung up in downtown areas into affordable housing by reallocating $ 300 million from the Rental Finance Initiative,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday. In its budget that gives a large place for access to housing.
The pandemic has emptied occupants of many office buildings and left many vacant jobs in large urban centers, and given the attractiveness of telecommuting, some of these spaces will remain vacant once the crisis is over. Ottawa acknowledges that the demand for retail and office space has changed. “Homeowners and communities can take this opportunity to explore the possibility of converting surplus space into rental housing, which increases the livelihood and affordability of urban communities,” read the budget documents.
The amount that will be earmarked to encourage change in the profession of office buildings is modest, but nonetheless is a first for the federal government. This is a “new approach”, the aim of which is to convert surplus commercial space into 800 rental units.
It’s interesting, says Michel LeBlanc, president of the Metropolitan Board of Trade in Montreal. “It struck me as a signal from the federal government, that they want to test things with pilot projects,” he commented.
According to him, the conversion possibilities are likely to be more in commercial buildings than in office buildings. “When we ask the owners if there will be an excess of office space, the answer is not clear,” he explains. Some of them believe that more space will be required because employees will need more space. ”
‘Homes should be used as housing’
The 2021 budget also announces the government’s intention to apply an annual national tax of 1% on the value of residential properties owned by non-residents and non-Canadians deemed vacant or not fully utilized, effective January 1.he is January 2022.
These owners will have to file an acknowledgment of the use of their building and penalties will be provided to those who do not.
“Homes should be used as housing,” Freeland said. They should not be passive investment vehicles for foreign funds. The new tax is expected to generate $ 700 million over four years, and that money should be used to improve housing affordability, Ottawa says.