City of Windsor Presents Strong Path Forward With Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan

The City of Windsor’s application to the federal government’s $4 billion Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) represents a comprehensive, strategic, and balanced approach to increasing the supply of housing and meeting the housing supply targets at an accelerated pace across the range of housing types city-wide. The thorough plan is aimed at promoting densification throughout the city, with a focus on key nodes along major thoroughfares and transit corridors, and where it makes sense for Windsor.

The federal government introduced HAF in March 2023 to help cut red tape and fast-track the construction of at least 100,000 new homes across Canada by 2025. The new program aims to incentivize municipalities to increase housing supply; and to promote the development of affordable, inclusive and diverse communities that are low-carbon and climate resilient. Municipalities receiving HAF support may utilize the funding for housing construction; land acquisition; design of additional public transit infrastructure; and construction of infrastructure for drinking water, waste water and waste management. Under the program, Windsor would be eligible to receive around $40 million in base funding, and potentially $30 million more if the municipality reaches its aggressive housing targets by encouraging purpose built units to address missing middle and affordability.

The City submitted its HAF application on August 18, 2023. As a result of the City’s commitment to housing, the HAF proposal includes eight initiatives to meet the action plan recommendations set by the federal government. These City initiatives include:

  • Direct residential intensification to support mixed-use communities;
  • Allow appropriate intensification within existing residential neighbourhoods;
  • Residential intensification target areas;
  • Financial incentives to offset the development costs of affordable housing;
  • Reduce parking requirements for affordable housing;
  • Permitting and development services modernization;
  • Social or affordable housing land acquisition and disposition policy; and
  • Green Development Standards Community Improvement Plan.

Key Highlights of the City’s Robust Housing Accelerator Fund Proposal:

  • Commitment to add an additional 2,135 residential dwelling units to the already anticipated development of 1,765 units over the next three years
  • Allowing four residential units as-of-right along major transit routes, in most parts of downtown, and in many other areas across the city
  • Allowing multi-unit builds and several-story builds, including four-plexes, across almost 1,000 acres and nearly 50 kilometres of arterial roads with bus routes available.
  • Allocation of enough land to build thousands more units than required for Windsor to meet its HAF housing targets.

At the time of the City’s submission, there was no prerequisite for cities to agree to allow four residential units as-of-right, anywhere in the municipality. On November 30, 2023, three months after the City’s submission, representatives from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) met to discuss amendments the federal government had made to the original framework of the HAF program. As part of that discussion, the City was advised that allowing four residential units as-of-right in all low-density zoning districts city-wide was now the minimum requirement to be considered for HAF funding. Currently, Windsor permits three units per a zoning change that was adopted under bill 23.

On December 13, 2023, Council met and voted 8 to 2 to reject four-plexes as-of-right in Windsor, and reaffirmed its commitment to meeting HAF housing targets through the initiatives included in the City’s HAF proposal. To date, the federal government remains steadfast on their funding eligibility requirement that the City allow four residential units as-of-right in all low-density zoning districts city-wide.

Without HAF funding, the City projected building 1,765 units in the municipality. Through the submitted HAF plan, Windsor would realize an additional 2,135 units, for a total of 3,900 units to be permitted by 2026.

Summary of Key Milestones to Date for Windsor’s HAF Action Plan

  • December 2019 – City adopted the Home Together: Windsor Essex Housing and Homelessness Master Plan.
  • June 2022 – City adopted a comprehensive amendment to its Official Plan and Zoning By-law that identified “Intensification Priority Areas” made up of Mixed Use Centres (260 hectares), Mixed Use Corridors (50 kilometres) and Mixed Use Nodes (137 hectares) to support housing targets.
  • February 2023 – City committed to supporting 13,000 new housing units by 2031 as part of its Housing Pledge to the provincial government.
  • March 2023 – Federal Government launched Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF).
  • July 2023 – Council endorsed the City of Windsor’s HAF Action Plan in accordance with the detailed program guidelines provided by the CMHC.
  • August 2023 – City of Windsor submitted its HAF application.
  • November 2023 – City informed that the federal government updated the HAF program requirements, making it a “ticket to entry” prerequisite for funded municipalities to allow four residential units as-of-right anywhere in the municipality.
  • December 2023 – Council voted 8 to 2 to reject four-plexes as-of-right in Windsor, and reaffirmed its commitment to meeting HAF housing targets through the initiatives included in the City’s HAF proposal.
  • January 2024 – Mayor and City administration engaged in discussions with federal government representatives and CMHC to discuss Windsor’s HAF proposal and the conditions attached to HAF funding allocations in other municipalities, with the goal of arriving at a solution for Windsor. During these discussions, the City was asked to provide a formal resolution supporting the initiatives proposed through Windsor’s HAF proposal.


“The robust plan the City submitted to the federal government’s Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) not only meets the program requirements but exceeds them. Our plan respects the homes of residents and the integrity of Windsor’s vibrant and established neighbourhoods while still supporting the federal government’s efforts to solve the housing crisis gripping Canada. City Council supports density, and has approved allowing four-plexes as-of-right where it makes sense for our community. Council respects our residents, their hard work and their quality of life. Our commitment to this plan will help get homes built in a rapidly growing community that needs them. Our proposed path forward helps address the housing crisis by strategically allocating land that more than fulfills HAF requirements – a plan that works for Windsor to effectively accommodate the evolving needs of our growing community. Let’s not forget that the ultimate goal here is not just about putting up buildings but about building homes and communities – the shared objective of all parties involved. We have come to the table as a strong partner, and as we move forward, we must do so with a collective vision of a Windsor that makes sense and that evolves responsibly.” - Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens