The Canadian housing crisis continues to dominate headlines and dictate unprecedented changes to policy. Across the country, a significant lack of housing supply compounded by inflation-related challenges and population growth has impacted homeowners and renters alike, contributing to increased homelessness and decreased community well-being.

CIP strongly believes that planners are already playing an important, solutions-oriented role across Canada. Planners are uniquely positioned to influence structural issues around housing, and CIP is committed to supporting our members in addressing these challenges by taking a strong stance on the sustainable and equitable development of housing, as set out in our Strategic Plan—1,835 Days of Impact.

CIP’s Strategic Plan is guided by our vision for inclusive and vibrant communities, respectfully connected to the natural world, for the well-being of current and future generations, and our mission to advocate on priority issues for greater collective impact. As such, we envision a future in which the planning and development of housing in Canada allows for a diverse supply of affordable, accessible, and adequate housing across the spectrum, and accommodates the needs of our multi-generational society.

We are also committed to having a Focused Impact, knowing that we can’t do it all and we need to be strategic and deliberate when responding to this emergency. We are therefore supporting the response by focusing on forming partnerships of influence, undertaking targeted advocacy, and connecting planners to the resources they need to succeed.

Partnerships of Influence

CIP is dedicated to discovering opportunities to collaborate and co-create with other organizations from across the industry to effectively tackle the Canadian housing crisis.

Our partnership with the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) plays a significant role in the advancement of our housing work. CIP is a proud member of CMHC’s Planning Research Advisory Committee, with representative Lilian Chau RPP, MCIP, delivering a planner’s perspective on national housing conversations. We have worked with CMHC in support of the forthcoming Housing Design Catalogue, and most recently attended the 2024 CMHC National Housng Conference, learning from how decision-makers are summoning a new era of housing innovation, sustainability, and equity. CIP has also helped to coordinate international opportunities to share the important work that CMHC is doing with our global counterparts.  

Our National Planning Directors Meetings bring together public-sector Planning Directors from coast-to-coast-to-coast, providing a valuable opportunity to discuss the greatest challenges and opportunities for planners and communities today. At our January 2024 virtual meeting, Steve Robichaud RPP, MCIP, the City of Hamilton’s Chief Planner, presented the nuances of the housing situation in Hamilton and outlined their “Whole of Hamilton” response that has incorporated measures such as zoning reform and transit-oriented development. This comprehensive presentation outlined several constructive strategies and offered guidance that could help transform planning practices in other jurisdictions. The Planning Directors will next meet in person on July 8 in Edmonton, AB, where they will hear from CMHC among other presenters and have the opportunity to share their own experiences and perspectives.

We are also partnering with other organizations to highlight the work of our members, such as at the upcoming Urban Thinkers Campus 2024 event. Organized by Planners4ClimateAction and the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), and with the theme of “Collective HOMEwork: Co-creating Solutions for the Global Housing Crisis”, this online symposium will feature a presentation from Hieu Nguyen RPP, MCIP, who has worked on the 100+: Canada’s Profile on Urban SDGs-nominated Dream Lebreton housing project. Additionally, CIP President Dan Huang RPP, MCIP, presented at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference on the current situation and measures to combat the housing emergency in Canada in front of an international audience. This event was the result of our close relationships with the APA, Royal Town Planning Institute, Te Kōkiringa Taumata | New Zealand Planning Institute, and the Planning Institute of Australia. Through these partnerships and more, we are bringing our members’ perspectives “to the table” and providing opportunities for their work to be shared at the national and international levels.

Targeted Advocacy

CIP actively supports and advocates for federal policies and actions that will contribute to safe, affordable, sustainable, and place-based housing options. The federal government holds much of the power to influence widespread change in housing design and development, and we remain dedicated to calling for solutions-based decision-making on a broader and bolder scale.

In recognition of recent federal announcements, CIP has published “Housing Alerts” across our social media platforms, offering a timely response to programs that will make a difference for those seeking affordable housing. We were pleased to encourage the launch of the Housing Accelerator Fund and the Housing Design Catalogue and look forward to sharing future federal actions for housing.

We have also addressed federal actions through our responses to the annual budget and related economic statements. Although we identified a lack of necessary funding in the 2023 federal budget, we observed National Housing Day by proudly remarking on the housing-related investments made in the Fall Economic Statement. Initiatives like the Affordable Housing Fund and the Housing Accelerator Fund are essential to turning the tide and providing Canadian families with the stability they need to prosper. As outlined in our response to the 2024 federal budget, we were happy to see that Canada’s Housing Plan and related budget demonstrate continued and increasing investments in housing. In this way, we will continue to do our part by serving as the national voice for the planning profession.

Connecting Planners to the Resources They Need

While CIP’s talented membership stands determined to address housing challenges across the country, they must be equipped with the knowledge and networks that are necessary to effectively drive change. As the national organization for Canadian planning professionals, CIP recognizes our responsibility and honours our commitment to providing our members with Career Support for Life –  helping them to fulfill their professional ambitions and use that empowerment for good. Through our CPL HUB and Resource Library, in addition to our webinar series and conference programming, we are continually connecting planners to the tools and training they need to successfully respond to the housing crisis.

Our Spring Plan Canada 2023 issue focused on Housing Choice and Affordability” featuring perspectives from across the profession on how to foster housing stability. This issue also marked the first iteration of the Plan Canada Webinar Series, hosted by Tatsuyuki Setta RPP, MCIP. We are also looking forward to the Winter 2024 issue of Plan Canada, which will feature the theme of Housing Supply – offering a new opportunity for planners to share their expertise and gain insight from others.

As evidenced-based decision-making is central to the planning profession, we also partnered with Statistics Canada to host “Housing Data for Planners” in both English and French, which demonstrated how to use data from the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, the Canadian Housing Survey, and the Census of Population within planning practice. Part-two of this series with StatCan is anticipated for late 2024.  

Housing also continues to take centre stage at CIP’s annual conferences, where planners and allied professionals from across the country come together to learn and exchange. The 2023 NAVIGATION conference featured housing as a key program theme, with 20 sessions on subjects such as homelessness, “the missing middle”, and non-market housing. This year’s conference CONNECTION, will feature 24 sessions on topics like the demographic shift, tiny homes, and 3D-printed housing, providing further opportunities for planners to learn how they can best contribute to tackling this significant challenge.

Building Something Brighter

Planners have demonstrated that they are focused on the growing and changing needs of their communities, but we know that they cannot solve structural problems alone. CIP continues to follow the evolution of the housing crisis, as well as the policy responses and innovations across the country, and we stand ready to respond and support our members through our actions and relationships.

To help our members play a role in building homes that can make a difference, we will continue to form impactful partnerships, advocate on our members’ behalf at a national level, and support their continued professional training. As we have already seen, planners can continue to lead the creation and preservation of affordable, accessible, and adequate housing supply in Canada when they feel equipped to be part of the solution.