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'We need federal funding:' Smiths Falls mayor says affordable housing crisis should be top election issue

Shawn Pankow says the affordable housing crisis is profound and getting worse.
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(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
As the federal election campaign nears the two week mark, the mayor of Smiths Falls is sharing his thoughts on the country's affordable housing crisis.

Shawn Pankow thinks it needs to be a top priority for party leaders.

"The affordable issue is profound and getting worse," Pankow tells CityNews Ottawa. "We need federal funding. There's no question this should be front and centre."

The mayor says, despite the fact Smiths Falls has more affordable housing projects currently on the go than ever before in its history, building and providing affordable homes is expensive and slow-moving.

"It's going to take a long time to fill that gap, and of course we continue to grow and demand rises," Pankow explains. "I don't know how we're going to catch up. Obviously we don't want people homeless in our communities."

The NDP, Liberal and Conservative parties have all pushed out promises to help ease the cost of housing, including some form of restriction to limit foreign buyers from purchasing housing in Canada. The NDP plan is a 20 per cent tax on housing purchases by non-Canadians or permanent residents, while both the Liberals and Conservatives plan some type of ban on new foreign ownership for two years.

To build more housing the NDP promises 500,000 new "affordable" homes built in 10 years, the Conservatives say they'll get 1-million new homes built in just three years, while the Liberals said they will "build, preserve, or repair" 1.4-million homes in four years.

Pankow says the campaign promises are encouraging because without federal funding, the demand for affordable housing will continue to outweigh the supply.

-With files from the Canadian Press
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