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Minister Admits N.B. Is In Housing ‘Crisis’

By Scott Pettigrew Feb 17, 2023 | 5:05 PM

More than 120 stakeholders participated in a virtual meeting on Thursday to determine how to best move forward with New Brunswick’s housing strategy.

“It’s very clear we have a crisis. Our vacancy rate is in the crisis zone,” says Jill Green, the minister responsible for housing.

“I’m hearing about issues with student housing; I’m hearing issues with workforce housing, especially in rural areas; … I’m hearing about speed of getting programs out to developers and non-profits.”

“It’s all about execution of getting more housing out there,” she says. “Each one of us has a role to play and we need to do it together.”

The meeting included participants from the government, non-profit, citizen-advocacy, and private sector stakeholders. It aimed to identify the main issues that need to be addressed in the province’s housing strategy, which is set for release in June.

Housing is a multifaceted issue with many players and forces moving the needle, all adding to the challenge of creating a strategy.

“This cannot be solved by one housing plan by the provincial government. It cannot be solved by the CMHC. It cannot be solved by the developers. We need everybody rowing in the same direction and working together,” Green says.

Marcel LeBrun, founder of housing NGO 12 Neighbours Inc., said his organization and the other NGO participants in the discussions are focused on collaboration.

“It’s a matter of saying ‘what’s the most important thing we can do to try to create the conditions to improve across the board?’” he says.

“There definitely is a regionality associated with the issues. We have within the housing spectrum and lack of supply in rural areas,” says Green. “The vacancy rate is worse in rural New Brunswick.”

She says that the lack of workforce housing is having an impact on supply in rural New Brunswick communities, making the situation for everyone in those regions, more severe.

LeBrun says NGOs are also noticing the exacerbation of the housing issue in rural areas.

“The focus there is to help non-profits that are operating affordable housing in rural communities that don’t really have the capacity to develop new housing stock because the houses they’re operating were built in the 90s,” he says.

Finding ways to build new stock in these areas is the main issue that needs to be addressed.

Green says whatever changes the strategy recommends, they have to be implemented in a timely manner.

“I can tell you 10 years is not acceptable, and it’s not going to get us where we need to be with our housing strategy,” she says. “We’re looking at a three-year, maybe a five-year horizon and making real change within that time period.”

These and other themes that ‘rise to the surface’ will be taken into consideration when constructing the strategy.

The next housing summit to discuss the housing strategy will be held in person on May 2.

Alex Graham is a reporter with Huddle, an Acadia Broadcasting content partner.


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