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Progressive Conservative caucus announces public housing locations prematurely, Housing Minister says

By Evan Taylor Oct 10, 2023 | 2:06 PM

Housing Minister John Lohr chatting with Lunenburg MLA Susan Corkum-Greek at the Wheelhouse Motel which the province will be converting into housing for healthcare workers. Photo: Evan Taylor.


Nova Scotia’s Housing Minister, John Lohr, expressed understanding and respect for his colleagues’ eagerness to share positive news with their communities but acknowledged that the Progressive Conservative caucus had jumped the gun by prematurely revealing the locations of long-awaited public housing projects. Lohr made these remarks during a press briefing on Thursday, following a cabinet meeting.

Last week, the provincial government unveiled plans to construct 222 new rent-geared-to-income housing units across several regions, including Bridgewater, Kentville, Truro, Cape Breton, and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). During the initial announcement, Minister Lohr refrained from disclosing the specific sites, emphasizing that the information would be made public once it had been “fully finalized.”

However, the following day, the Progressive Conservative caucus released a news statement indicating that out of the total $83-million investment, $60 million would be allocated to HRM, with a significant portion, $48 million, designated for Lower Sackville.

Minister Lohr clarified that while this information was not inaccurate, it was not yet set in stone. He explained, “It contains information that we were maybe wanting to withhold because … we recognize that there could be changes to the locations and numbers.” Lohr emphasized the need for further “due diligence” before sharing additional details with the public.

This due diligence, he added, would factor in the municipalities’ capacity to accommodate the new housing developments.

Earlier this week, Bridgewater’s Mayor, David Mitchell, expressed surprise at the news that some of the new housing would be situated in his community. Mayor Mitchell raised concerns about Bridgewater’s ability to integrate the public housing into the municipal infrastructure, particularly regarding water and sewage systems.

Minister Lohr acknowledged Mayor Mitchell’s concerns and assured him that the department would collaborate with Bridgewater to address the issues. He stated, “We certainly would not put housing in anywhere where there wasn’t adequate sewer and water supply. I can assure the mayor of that.”

The Nova Scotia government remains committed to providing affordable housing solutions across the province while ensuring that appropriate infrastructure and locations are chosen for the benefit of all communities involved.