Feds announce more than $5M in housing cash for three N.B. communities

The federal government announced millions in housing cash for three New Brunswick communities Friday.

The new Housing Accelerator Fund agreements are worth $1.05 million for the Town of Grand-Bay Westfield, $3.2 million for the Town of Sussex and $840,000 for the Rural Community of Harvey, Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long announced in a speech Friday at the Brundage Point River Centre in Grand Bay-Westfield.

Long said the funding would go to promote “a new way of working at a time where we really need it,” encouraging “bold action, fearless innovation and systemic change.”

“It’s all in promoting density, infrastructure needs, reducing red tape and breaking down barriers to help set the table for housing development,” Long told Brunswick News.

Grand Bay-Westfield’s action plan contains five initiatives, including encouraging density, affordable housing incentives and repurposing town-owned land, according to information from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which administrates the fund.

“I got goosebumps,” Mayor Brittany Merrifield told Brunswick News. “We’ve been trying to do everything we can to increase development in the town … This will help us take it to the next level and get the houses built that we need to have built.”

She said the town’s development incentives are about “reducing the barriers” to affordable housing, including “missing middle” developments and seniors homes.

“When we talk to our developers, they say one of the biggest issues is the upfront costs in terms of building,” she said.

The program is expected to incentivize 30 additional permitted units over the next three years, and build 101 homes in the next decade, according to the CMHC.

“This is a community that I think is a sleeping giant in our region,” Long said. “It’s beautiful, it’s riverfront, it’s poised for growth. Grand Bay-Westfield, through Mayor Merrifield, put together a great application.”

Sussex’s program has six initiatives, including getting vacant parcels permit-ready for mixed-use development, promote higher density, planning and implementation of flood mitigation, work with modular housing, partnerships with nonprofit growth and growth-focused infrastrucutre planning, according to a statement on the town’s website.

CAO Scott Hatcher told Brunswick News by phone they’ve seen more “confidence” in the private sector about bringing housing developments to Sussex, and that they’ve had demand from employers to find places to put new recruits.

“This funding falls into place with an assessment of our housing needs and future vision,” he said, saying they could meet the needs of the people who live in Sussex “today as well as tomorrow.”

Harvey’s plan includes regional climate adaption strategies, accelerating development approvals, a regional housing database and encouraging alternate housing like secondary suites and accessory units. It’s down for 33 additional permitted units in three years and 114 homes in the next decade.

Long said the various action plans include affordable housing requirements, but said he saw the need as not only affordable housing but “just housing.”

“Every build that we do, every build that we fund now has to have a certain component of affordable housing,” he said. “Sometimes I will say, just build housing, the market will regulate itself, we just need more units.”

At the announcement, representatives from other municipalities in the region like Saint John deputy mayor John MacKenzie, Hampton mayor Bob Doucet and Quispamsis mayor Libby O’Hara were present, with Doucet saying they came to support their neighbours.

Quispamsis and Hampton both had applications in and didn’t receive funding. O’Hara said “we did the best we could, we felt we had a robust request,” adding the town has a strategic plan featuring high-density building.

Hampton is looking to expand its service infrastructure to more properties to enable more development, and said the town would reapply at the next opportunity.

“The fund was highly oversubscribed, I’m going to continue to go to bat for every community in my region for funding,” Long said.

Doucet said he’s “happy for” Grand Bay-Westfield and O’Hara called it “wonderful” for the town.

“I think it’s well deserving and I look forward to seeing how they’re going to put it to use,” she said.

You might also like