Wartime housing measures to fight the crisis

The federal government is hoping a series of standard housing designs will ease the housing crisis.

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Good morning!

The federal government seems to have finally decided it needs to play a more active role in turning the housing crisis around. Whether it works is a longer term question, but it’s been clear for some time that all levels of government — the city, the province, and the feds — all need to pitch in to put a lid on exploding home prices.

Today we look at the latest federal proposal, which has the government talking about wartime measures. Though, fortunately, not a draft.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Friday: +8 🌡️ +2 | ☀️


Pre-approved designs could improving housing crunch

What happened: The federal government is looking to return to post-war style housing development by creating a series of pre-approved housing designs, CTV reported. The idea is to modernize the idea of the so-called victory homes built in the decades after the Second World War.

By creating a set of pre-approved designs, builders could be assured of faster approvals. Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser said the designs could shave a year of construction.

Consultations: The process will start with consultations throughout the spring with industry. The hope is that by the fall a book of designs is made available to builders across the country. The designs would be built in line with building codes, and will include more than just single-family strawberry box homes. 

While the outlines are rough, Fraser said the design catalogue would include units like garden suites, and mid-sized multiplexes. There would also be a focus on energy efficiency and using modular designs to lower costs and speed construction.

  • “It's important that we have multiple designs in each of these categories, so communities have some agency in determining what their communities look like.… We want to create designs that can actually be built quickly and can be built cheaply without compromising on quality or sustainability,” Fraser said according to the broadcaster.

The benefits: Having pre-approved designs would allow for all sorts of efficiencies. Most developments are essentially one-offs, with different layouts and building styles. A universal design book allows for easier construction because the design phase is done, but it also allows for faster construction as builders get good at building the same few designs.

There are some pitfalls. Previous social housing programs focused exclusively on building homes at cost, were soon scaled back because of how they cut into private profits, according to one housing researcher:

New in town

Opening soon: A new building in the Zibi development is opening with dorm-style living in mind. The “co-living” shared-unit concept would have private bedrooms in different configurations with three- and four-bedroom units that share washrooms and kitchen spaces, according to floor plans posted by the developer. The four-bedroom units forego a shared living room, instead putting another bedroom in a similar amount of space. While the three-bedroom units have a shared living space as well.

Affordable housing: The shared units offer lower rents than a fully private apartment. The building also includes units run through a public housing subsidiary at affordable, below-market rates, CBC reported. In total, there are 48 shared apartments with 175 bedrooms. There are 19 community housing units, and another 140 traditional private units.

  • The developer said they wanted to see how successful the shared living space model works before trying it in other buildings. Renters would rent the room directly from the building, instead of needing to pool together to rent an apartment together.

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⚖️ $3,125: The amount a Gatineau Kia dealership was fined for adding a $499 fee to a vehicle that put it above its advertised price. [CTV]

🏥 $40.5 million: The provincial government announced CHEO would receive this much in additional annual funding. [CTV]

🚨 27: The number of impaired driving charges handed out from Thursday to Monday across the city. A weekend RIDE program checkpoint that stopped 1,050 drivers resulted in four warnings and one impaired driving charge. [CTV]


🚍 An OC Transpo driver in Nepean suffered minor burns when the driver’s seat suffered a malfunction. The injuries did not require hospitalization. [CBC]

🚑 Bystanders saved a man’s life in Stittsville by performing CPR and using a defibrillator after he collapsed at an indoor soccer dome. Paramedics arrived and brought him to hospital. [CTV]

🚨 Two people were severely injured when a driver hit a motorized wheelchair carrying a passenger in Tamworth. Police are investigating, but no charges have been laid yet. [CTV]

🛍️ Uniqlo will be opening a second store in the city, when it opens a new location in Bayshore. The new store is expected to open in the spring. [CTV]


With the federal plan to get back in the home design game, we thought we’d see if there was a post-war home for sale in the city. Lo and behold, there is one. This three-bedroom, one-bathroom home is in the Carlington neighbourhood. It’s got hardwood throughout, a large yard, and oodles of potential.

House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team.

Stay as informed about the world as you are about Ottawa!

While we keep you updated on Ottawa, International Intrigue keeps you informed about the world. Their 5-minute daily briefing, curated by former diplomats, ensures you're up-to-date on geopolitics, economics, and global affairs.  Be the friend who's always in the know about international issues.


🚨 A 53-year-old man, Gordon Ahlstrom was charged with allegedly detonating a homemade bomb in Centretown. Two years ago, a 51-year-old man named Gordon Ahlstrom was charged with five counts relating to setting and detonating bombs throughout Centretown. Ottawa police said they could not confirm whether it was the same man because they do not comment on historical information about individuals. [Ottawa Lookout/Global]

🍻 The province is expected to open sales of beer, wine, and pre-mixed drinks to corner stores in 2026. An official announcement of the plan is expected Thursday. [CBC]

🚦 Two red-light cameras on King Edward are the city’s busiest, with the cameras at St. Patrick and St. Andrew accounting for 6,912 tickets between them. [CTV]

🥪 A man with stage 4 colon cancer is searching the city for the best club sandwich. Jay MacPherson’s Clubbing with Cancer adventure is building community around sandwiches and dealing with illness. [CBC]

💰 Canada’s grocers are expected to pull in record profits totalling $6 billion this year, with profit margins at about three percent. Between 2015-19, grocery profit margins were closer to 1.5 percent. Food prices in Ontario went up about 5.5 percent this year. [CityNews]

🏒 Detroit’s Devaid Perron was suspended six games for cross-checking the Sens defenceman Artem Zub. [The Associated Press]

🥅 On the ice, the Sens lost 4-1 to the Hurricanes, going 0/4 on the power play. The team dropped below .500 once again, going 11-12-0 on the season, and still sit at the bottom of the Atlantic division. [Twitter]

  • The Yard, an indoor skatepark, is in danger of closing at the end of the year because of increasing costs. They’re hoping public support can bring attention to councillors and the city to show there’s a need for indoor recreation. [The Yard] 

  • Sens players, including captain Brady Tkachuk, brought some joy to kids at CHEO, as the team restarted its visits to the hospital for the first time since the start of the pandemic. [CTV]

  • A series of free shows are coming to the Rainbow Bistro in February as part of the Ice Dragonboat Festival, including performances by Wintersleep, Joel Plaskett, Elliot Brood, and more. [Ottawa Citizen]

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Holiday gifts for foodies from Italy

Capital Eats is written by our food editor Ralf Joneikies.

In my reporting on what’s good and fine in food and drink, I inevitably come across food products that I just need to share. Last year we showed you two quality Canadian canned seafood companies.

This year, we’re highlighting two importers of Italian and Spanish foods. One is based in Toronto and the other right here in Ottawa.

I first came across the Italian importer this summer while enjoying dinner at a friend's home. Black “Homestyle Baked” olives and a fab green Nocellara olive that comes from southwestern Sicily were on the table as starter nibblies. They were of an uncommon quality and I ate them like peanuts. 

The olive oil represented by at the importer is some of the finest in the market and the Otto in particular exceptional. It’s a cultivar exclusively grown in the province of Calabria. Buttery, subtle and with a peppery arugula finish it’s ideal for salads or for dressing baked fish or finishing a roast tomato soup.


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