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Commercial real-estate group calls for major funding boost to spur Edmonton housing growth

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Edmonton's population is exploding, and that's led the development industry to push for more government funding to help build the housing and infrastructure those people will need.

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada finds nearly 50,000 people moved to Alberta's capital last year. It says another 90,000 are expected to make Edmonton home by the end of 2025.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $175 million to support the construction of homes in Edmonton through the federal Housing Accelerator Fund.

Its goal is to help build 5,200 homes in the next three years.

Anand Pye, the chief executive officer of NAIOP, Edmonton's Commercial Real Estate Development Association, says that amount is well short of what's needed however.

He says about 30,000 new homes need to be built to accommodate the influx of residents, not to mention the amenities and infrastructure the growth demands.

"Multi-family buildings, retail, industrial, it’s an opportunity for us to look at where we’re doing it, and how we’re doing it ... and then think about how we can do that at a higher scale," Pye told CTV News Edmonton on Wednesday.

Pye says more government funding will be needed to spur private investment in apartments, row housing, grocery stores and warehouses.

He says that could come in the form of grants or major public projects that impel private developers to build near them.

"We want to create these complete communities," Pye said.

"We want to make sure we're building a dense and sustainable Edmonton, places that are near the core, and we're going to need infrastructure to be able to do that."

He says now is the time to discuss where in the city to add amenities such as retail centres, schools and rec centres, "but especially what we're building: multi-family buildings, retail, industrial."

"It's an opportunity for us to look at where we're doing it and how we're doing it, and then think about how we can do that at a higher scale," Pye said. 

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