Like Nigeria, the housing crisis in Canada finds explanation in the country’s growing population, urbanisation and lack of critical infrastructure which constraint housing supply and create demand-supply imbalance.
According to reports, housing shortage in the country is as pronounced in the municipalities as they are in the cities. Municipalities in that country are the equivalents of towns or villages or local governments in Nigeria.
The municipal government in the country is responsible for local services, such as fire protection, city streets and recreational facilities such as parks and community centres.
Canada treats the case of people at that level as a special one because the country believes that they are on the frontline of challenges related to homelessness, mental health and climate change.
Mike Savage, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and mayor of Gore Scott Pearce, and the Chair of FCM’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus and mayor of Halifax, believes that municipal infrastructure is the foundation for new home construction.
He pointed out in a recent media report that infrastructure requires immense public investment which involves resources that many municipalities and cities currently do not have at the scale required to meet Canada’s housing targets.
“All orders of government need to work together to solve Canada’s housing crisis. That starts with a recognition of—and commitment to solve—the very real but often unseen challenge of ensuring Canada’s public infrastructure can support the housing growth Canadians expect,” he added
He raised hope, though, saying that the federal government has signalled that new details about their next generation of infrastructure funding were coming soon and this hope cascades to the locals as well as immigrants which include many homeless Nigerians in the country.
Like Nigeria where infrastructure accounts for about 30 percent of construction cost and so constitutes a major impediment to housing supply, Canada also has infrastructure problem at the municipalities that is making it difficult for developers to put more houses on the market.
But unlike Nigeria where housing challenge means so little to the government, the growth of population and dearth of housing in Canada is worrying the country and its people and they are making efforts to find solution to the problem.
Nigeria’s population is estimated at 200 million and the country’s homeownership level is as low as 25 percent while housing deficit in the country is put variously at 17, 20, 22, and 28 million units depending on who is speaking and where he stands.
“With Canada having recently surpassed a population of 40 million people, every corner of our country is turning attention to the opportunities and challenges that come with a growing nation,” noted.
He noted further that growth demands action, adding that nowhere was this felt more urgently than in municipalities where Canadians expect excellent public services and a high quality of life.
“That is why FCM is leading the national call for a new municipal growth framework; a new revenue tool or a set of revenue tools that are tied to Canada’s growth and potentially redefines how we work across government,” he added.
According to Savage, as the nation grows, the need for municipalities to confidently meet that growth is clearer than ever, and they need the resources to do it.
“No challenge is more pressing than that of housing. And new housing depends on essential—but often invisible—municipal infrastructure. When Canadians move into a new home, they are not just expecting four walls and a roof.
They expect sinks with running water, rooms that light up at the flick of a switch, a predictable system that hauls away garbage to a safe disposal site, local emergency services at the ready, and libraries, parks, and municipal programmes that turn housing units into communities. These are not optional,” he said.