International Development Minister touts Ottawa’s housing plan

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of International Development and Sault MP Terry Sheehan were in Sault Ste. Marie Wednesday to promote the federal government’s plans to double down on efforts to ease the country’s housing crisis.

Ottawa’s housing strategy aims to facilitate the building of 3.87 million new homes by 2031.

“We recognize that a lot of people around the country , including right here in Sault Ste. Marie are facing rising rents that are making it hard for them to find a place to call home,” said Hussen. “We are seeing rising home prices that are keeping the dream of home ownership away and out of reach of young people. We know the way to address (both issues) is to build the housing supply and to build faster and faster.”

Hussen said one of the biggest obstacles to new and affordable housing is access to land. 

The minister said as part of the federal budget for 2024, the government will unlock more public lands and government buildings and offices for housing construction, for 250,000 homes.

“We want to see unused and under-used public buildings, government buildings, post offices to unlock more housing,” said Hussen.

Hussen and Sheehan’s visit included a visit and tour to the Legion Building, the nine-story, 108-unit tower on Great Northern Rd.

The $32 million project’s origin began in earnest while Hussen was federal Minister of Housing, and Diversity and Inclusion. 

Hussen, along with Sault MP Terry Sheehan, toured multiple floors and several rooms of the facility, which will also be the new home of Branch 25 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Sheehan called Hussen “a champion” of the Legion Building project and says people are amazed how far along the project is after 16 months.

“This project, as all of us in the community have seen, has been rapidly developing. I continue to get feedback from people saying, ‘wow is that thing ever progressing quickly.’ 

Sheehan credited Sam Biasucci his company, SalDan Developments, for their expeditious efforts.

There is still some work to be completed but tenants are expected to begin moving in next month, with the Legion’s portion of the complex expected to be ready in June.

“This project was many years in the making,” said Pierre Breckenridge, President of Branch 25, Royal Canadian Legion. “But for sure, the assistance of the federal government, the Minister and our MP are definitely responsible for us for being able to make the final decision to go ahead with this project.”

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