Share this blog post

Both/And: Integrating Natural Asset Management into Federal Housing Supply Policymaking

NAM and housing - Dockside Green, Victoria BC - modern wood clad building with lots of greenery and a prominent water feature in the foreground

In a world increasingly aware of the need for sustainable development, the intersection of housing policy and natural infrastructure has never been more critical. Our report with the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), Both/And: Integrating Natural Asset Management into Federal Housing Supply Policymaking, asserts the importance of incorporating natural asset management (NAM) into Canada’s federal housing strategies. This approach promises not only to enhance community resilience to climate change, but also to elevate the quality of life for all Canadians.

Acknowledging the strides the federal government is making to support well-located housing in built-up areas of Canada’s cities and towns, as well as rural and northern areas, incorporating NAM considerations will further ensure that nature’s services are recognized by:

Strengthening Decision-Making: By incorporating the robust evidence supporting green infrastructure, policymakers can make more informed decisions that support vital services on which communities rely.

Maximizing Infrastructure Dollars: Investing in NAM can reduce the need for expensive engineered solutions, including minimizing investment in certain dead-end engineered assets.

Ensuring Climate Resilience: NAM can help ensure that new housing developments are resilient over its lifespan in a rapidly changing climate.

Avoiding Adverse Consequences: Recognizing critical natural assets can help ensure that housing expansion does not come at the cost of the natural systems, allowing for effective, sustainable development.

More specifically, recent changes to the housing policy in the 2024 Budget and the accompanying Canada’s Housing Plan present three main opportunities to advance sustainable housing supply growth through NAM:

  1. The Public Lands for Homes program, which will enable rapid transformation of brownfield sites such as former army bases and office buildings into housing and other uses.
  2. Housing Accelerator Fund agreements that link federal infrastructure funding to municipal planning and approval changes and housing targets.
  3. Similar conditional infrastructure funding agreements with provinces through the Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The report itself provides an overview of recent changes to policy, NAM literature, Canadian and international examples of best practices, and interviews with eight Canadian experts. In order to enhance federal housing policy and guide the integration of NAM, the report provides 10 recommendations to maximize both green infrastructure and housing affordability outcomes, which include protecting existing natural assets, engaging Indigenous Nations, leveraging federal funding mechanisms, and ensuring social infrastructure integrates green infrastructure, which will be especially important for Canada’s most vulnerable citizens.

Housing affordability cannot come at the cost of nature; in fact, we argue that affordable, sustainable housing will rely on healthy natural infrastructure now more than ever.

Read the report: Both/And: Integrating Natural Asset Management into Federal Housing Supply Policymaking


Writing and research lead: Canadian Urban Institute (CUI)

Carolyn Whitzman, CUI Senior Associate – Author, Lead Researcher
Jennifer Barrett, Managing Director, Programs, Planning & Policy
Shavtai Pinchas, Research Planner
Berta Kaisr, Research Planner

Funding support for this project was provided by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Share this blog post