Ottawa is lending billions to developers. The result: $1,500 ‘affordable’ rents


Data released under access-to-information laws shows many projects will have rents higher than local average. As Birch Meadows, a 76-unit apartment complex on the outskirts of Moncton, N.B., opens this fall, it will offer tenants a number of perks: underground heated parking, quartz countertops, storage lockers and an in-house gym. Earlier this year, when federal Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen announced Ottawa was handing the project’s developer a $16-million loan with highly favourable terms, he detailed another significant bonus. Half the units, he said, would be “deeply affordable” as part of the agreement, signed under the federal government’s $25-billion rental construction financing initiative. It was a key consideration in a small city that’s witnessed examples of huge rent increases, in a province considered the poorest in Canada. But it turns out that “deeply affordable” is relative. Federal data released under access-to-information laws shows the “average affordable rent” of the Birch Meadows project is $1,500 a month — far higher than Moncton’s average rent last year of $880.

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