Rural Communities to Benefit from Innovative Shipping Container Housing Model

BANFF, AB/CNW/ – Individuals and families in rural Alberta communities will soon have access to housing that meets their needs via an ambitious new shipping container housing proposal, with plans to roll out similar projects across the country.

Through the National Housing Strategy’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, the Government of Canada is allocating $10 million to support the Alberta Rural Development Network’s (ARDN) Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI) which will see the development of at least 8 energy-efficient affordable housing shipping container projects. The initiative’s first phase seeks to create up to 467 rental units over the next two years.

The Honourable Kent Hehr, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), along with Cam Westhead, MLA for Banff-Cochrane, on behalf of Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, made the announcement today.

The YWCA Banff Courtyard Project is the first under this new initiative to be announced. The 33 unit, 3-story cost effective project will meet net-zero targets for energy efficiency and provide affordable rental housing for up to 78 residents who face barriers to finding suitable accommodation. The Courtyard will be ideal for women, new and extended families, individuals, and with a least four suites that are barrier free, people with accessibility needs.

ARDN is developing a toolkit to guide local governments and community organizations to stimulate new affordable housing development. The toolkit will save community groups time and money by providing free, comprehensive, step-by-step guidelines on how to successfully develop, build and manage affordable housing projects.

The guide will be based on the initial eight projects, which include a variety of owner/operator models such as private developers, not-for-profit groups and local municipal governments. The first edition of the guide will be launched early next year and will be updated after all 8 projects are completed.


“If you don’t have a home, it’s very difficult to build a life. Investment in affordable housing is critical to ensuring that Canadian communities continue to thrive. Our Government is proud to support innovative organizations like ARDN as they work to design efficient, forward-thinking housing solutions that not only work here in Alberta, but could easily be replicated in rural communities across the country. Cultivating bold new ideas like this is exactly what the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is all about.” – The Honourable Kent Hehr, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre

“Everyone should have access to a safe and affordable home. I am proud of our government’s investment in much needed affordable housing across the province. These new homes for women and their families will help those who need it the most.” – The Honourable Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Alberta Seniors and Housing

“Over the past three years, our Sustainable Housing Initiative team has been working hard to break down barriers and support the efforts of organizations and municipalities who want to increase their community’s inventory of affordable housing. Through our understanding of rural needs, we have created a process that will help rural communities successfully develop affordable housing while saving time and money. I believe the YWCA Banff Courtyard project will act as a landmark development that will redefine how affordable housing is built in rural communities across Canada.” – Joshua Bénard, Director, Sustainable Housing Initiative ARDN

“Creating a sense of home is so much more than just a building and the Innovation Fund gave ARDN and the YWCA creative space to think differently about our approach to design. Living in Banff National Park also strongly influenced our commitment to net zero targets. Belonging, security, connection, affordability, community pride—these are all factors that have influenced how we developed the Courtyard.” – Connie MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Banff

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada, through CMHC, allocated $10 million to support ARDN’s 8 initial shipping container housing projects. More projects in other provinces are currently under development.
  • The Government of Alberta is contributing up to $2.6 million to the YWCA Courtyard project.
  • ARDN will use the data, documents, and lessons learned from the first phase of projects to inform the creation of the toolkit.
  • Each project will be built with a modular approach using shipping containers, allowing the building modules to be replicated for different projects ultimately saving design, engineering, and development costs. Each project will meet net-zero targets for energy efficiency, reducing operating costs.
  • The Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, a National Housing Strategy initiative delivered by CMHC, will create up to 4,000 new affordable housing units and reduce the number of Canadians living in housing need.
  • The Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is providing $200 million over 5 years for projects that showcase new funding models and innovative building techniques, lowering the costs and risks of financing affordable housing projects and helping to make the affordable housing sector more attractive for private market developers and investors.
  • The Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is delivered in tandem with the $3.75 billion Rental Construction Financing initiative and the $13.2 billion National Housing Co-investment Fund. Combined, these three initiatives represent an investment of over $17.15 billion. This includes investments under Investing in Canada Plan.

Associated Links

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers unbiased housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry. For more information, please visit or follow us on TwitterYouTubeLinkedIn and Facebook.

To find out more about the National Housing Strategy, visit

For more information about the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund or to apply, please visit


SOURCE Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation