CUTA report highlights how public transit can help tackle Canada’s housing crisis

Published October 23, 2023.

OTTAWA (October 23, 2023) –The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) released a comprehensive report on the policy intersections between housing and public transit. It emphasizes the role of public transit in shaping housing development, improving affordability, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The report presents a series of policy recommendations aimed at federal, provincial, and municipal governments, as well as transit agencies and other partners.

Transportation and housing are the two largest expenditures among Canadian households. The housing shortage and affordability crisis affects all Canadians, but particularly lower-income individuals who rely more heavily on public transit. CUTA initiated a study to determine how transit and housing policies can work together effectively to improve quality of life for Canadians.

“Housing and transit are often planned separately, resulting in new housing developments with little to no transit services or new transit projects without the residential density to increase ridership,” said CUTA President Marco D’Angelo. “This disjointed approach leads to longer commutes, increased transit operating costs, and reduced progress on other policy goals. Housing and transportation are intertwined, and their solutions must be intertwined as well.”

CUTA addressed five policy themes. The first theme involves activating land for transit-oriented development (TOD). The second encourages housing development near existing transit stations and properties. The third theme focuses on ensuring inclusivity and proposes that governments incentivize developers of TODs to include rental and affordable housing units.

The fourth policy theme centres on streamlining approval processes. “Time is of the essence,” said D’Angelo. “It takes far to long for new housing and new transit to get built. Delays are costly and constrain economic and social progress.”

The report calls for coordinated rezoning that can lead to cost savings for new rapid transit projects. It also notes that municipalities should accelerate the timeline for reviewing development applications within defined transit-oriented development areas.

The final policy theme aims to prioritize transit investments that pair housing and ridership growth. The proposed federal Permanent Public Transit Fund, scheduled to come online in 2026, offers an opportunity for enhancing the integration of housing and public transit in Canada. The federal government has signalled that integrating housing supply considerations will be an important co-benefit of this program. This can incentivize provinces and municipalities to boost housing supply, ensuring alignment between public transit and housing needs.

The report’s conclusions were developed through a series of in-person consultation sessions with municipalities, provincial governments, developers, housing stakeholders and academia were conducted in cities throughout the country.

“Our report is not just a checklist, it’s a call to action,” said D’Angelo, “With a rising population, and ongoing housing supply and affordability issues, inaction is not an option.”

Read the backgrounder for more information on the report:

Read the full report:


Media Contact:
Jon MacMull
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA)
Phone: (416) 684-9808
Email: [email protected]