The Conservatives are throwing water on the Liberals’ pledge to develop housing units on federal lands. They already promised this in 2015 and didn’t deliver, Pierre Poilievre says.

The federal government’s plan plans to unlock surplus federal properties to construct over 2,800 new homes across various Canadian cities. 

Poilievre said Canadians should be skeptical given Justin Trudeau’s record.

“Trudeau’s promise eight years ago of selling government buildings for housing has produced 13 homes. Now, he says that if you re-elect him two more times, he will keep his promise by 2029 — 14 years after he first promised it,” said Poilievre

The housing plan comes as Liberals face a significant dip in the polls. The announcement puts the government on track to develop about 29,200 housing units on federal lands by 2029.

While Poilievre criticized the Liberals’ plan, he has a different solution in mind.

Among his proposed solutions to the crisis is a pitch to sell 15% of federal buildings and lands for housing development. 

To further promote affordable housing development, Procurement Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Tuesday that Canada Lands Co., a Crown corporation, will implement a revised mandate. 

Under this new initiative, a minimum target of 20% affordable housing will be enforced across all projects in the company’s development pipeline. This affordability standard will come into effect in areas where municipal requirements for affordable housing are either lower or nonexistent.

Following discussions with provincial and territorial counterparts, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith have said that housing remains a top priority for collaboration with the federal government.

Canada Lands Co. will be unlocking six federal surplus properties to allow the construction of 2,800 additional units by March 2024 in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and St. John’s. These properties are expected to include a minimum of 300 units for affordable housing, as the 20% target applies across all projects countrywide, not individual projects.

Mike Moffatt, the senior director of policy and innovation at the Smart Prosperity Institute, said that the number of units that will be built pales in comparison to what’s needed to address the shortage, according to CBC

“A few thousand units here and there, while they certainly help, are just a very small move in the right direction,” he said. 

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. estimates that the number of units being built falls short of the 3.5 million homes estimated to be needed in Canada by 2030 to restore affordability effectively. 

Housing experts call on the federal government to leverage its real-estate assets to build more homes, particularly ones that would be affordable for lower-income Canadians, said the CBC.

Another way housing advocates advocate for boosting housing supply is by converting excess government office space into apartments. 

Earlier this year, the federal government unveiled its intention to sell ten surplus office properties located in the National Capital Region. According to experts, a number of these structures hold potential for conversion into residential spaces.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to present a fall economic statement focusing on housing and affordability in the coming weeks. 

Even with policies to accelerate construction, the benefits may not be seen for several years. 

“I do think there’s room to look at areas like rent supplements, like looking at increases in GST cheques, and those kinds of things, to make sure that people can afford to pay the rent,” said Moffatt.