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David Hickey is a councillor for Ward 3 in Saint John. Image: Danielle McCreadie

More gov’t help needed for housing crisis: Saint John councillor

By Brad Perry Mar 27, 2024 | 12:50 PM

A Saint John councillor is calling for more government support to deal with the housing crisis.

“From a councillor’s perspective, I feel a lot of helplessness,” David Hickey said in an interview.

The call comes after a tent encampment fire earlier this week claimed the lives of two people.

Hickey said the city continues to step out of its lane on housing in an effort to help those in need.

“We are stepping into addressing some of the core services around homelessness, working with outreach teams and making sure that we can provide that support that we have not traditionally done,” he said.

However, the councillor said the city’s efforts are simply maintaining the status quo when it comes to the homelessness crisis.

Hickey said while there is more the city can do, they need to count on other levels of government to rise to the occasion in a “meaningful and urgent way.”

“We do not have the capacity to invest significantly and meaningfully in housing and housing affordability in the same way the provincial government does,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Higgs government defended the work it has done to deal with the issue during question period in the legislature on Tuesday.

Premier Blaine Higgs said they have been working with communities big and small to get people off the street.

“The sad reality, Mr. Speaker, is that some people don’t want to come off the street. Some people just refuse to do that,” said Higgs.

“So I think we want to find solutions going forward and we want to find solutions that would require that people shouldn’t have to live on the street.”

The premier referenced yet-to-be-introduced legislation which would allow judges and hearing officers to order treatment “in extreme cases” for those struggling with addiction and “unable to meet their own basic needs.”

Hickey, however, said the housing crisis is not being met with the urgency that it deserves.