Developer plans 5k housing units following construction tax cuts

Dream Unlimited says the new policies are a game changer for the development industry.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dream Unlimited plans to develop 5,000 units of purpose-built rental housing.
  • The projects will be in Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary and Toronto.
  • In the next six months Dream can advance its shovel ready projects, which includes 1,350 units.

The Whole Story:

Ottawa’s new policy to exempt rental construction from GST is already bearing fruit. 

Toronto-based developer Dream Unlimited announced it will move ahead of building 5,000 new units of purpose-built rental housing and cited tax breaks from the federal government and provinces as being deciding factors. 

The developer stated in a press release that the tax breaks establish a newfound ability for the entire development industry ecosystem to partner with all levels of government, not-for-profit and private sector organizations to collectively address the affordability crisis by increasing the amount of market and affordable rental units available to Canadians.

“With Thursday’s introduction of new legislation formalizing the removal of GST, Dream is positioned to move forward on 5,000 net new purpose-built rental apartment units in Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary and Toronto collectively,” says Michael J. Cooper, president and CEO of Dream Unlimited. “This legislation is a game changer for the development industry, and more importantly for Canadians. The housing crisis has impacted every urban centre from coast to coast. What this legislation unlocks is our ability to get shovels into the ground quickly at a time when it’s never been more critical to build new homes.”

Each of the sites identified by Dream currently have approvals in place.

Dream officials say that in the next six months its team can advance its shovel ready projects, which includes 1,350 units. In Ottawa, Dream will be advancing 1,010 units of which 43% – equivalent to 438 units – will be dedicated as affordable. Rents for the Ottawa units will range from 59% of median market rent to market rents, contributing to 7% of the city’s targeted annual construction starts of 15,000 units. In addition, Dream will bring 340 units to Saskatoon. By 2025, Dream expects it will be able to advance another 3,700 units across Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Saskatoon.

Dream officials noted that its progress in Ottawa is largely due to a unique partnership between Dream and the Multifaith Housing Initiative of Ottawa (MHI), a Canadian non-profit charitable organization founded in 2002 that is a coalition of 80 faith communities. 

As a result of the partnership, both organizations are able to deliver an integrated rental community that will include affordable housing, transit connectivity and unprecedented sustainability targets. Located on the Library Parcel of LeBreton Flats, the development is a net-zero, mixed-income community that includes 608 rental units, 41% of which will be dedicated as affordable. Dream and MHI will also develop integrated programs and support systems.

“Multifaith Housing Initiative strongly supports the legislation tabled by the federal government on Thursday to eliminate the GST from new purpose-built rentals and encourages all provincial governments to proceed with the exemption of the PST,” said Suzanne Le, executive director, Multifaith Housing Initiative.” 


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