A lack of affordable housing for younger families in the Shea Heights area of St. John's has created a problem, spurring the city to come up with a novel way to revitalize the neighbourhood.

Ward 5 councillor Wally Collins said several years ago residents approached him on the issue of limited space to expand in the area. He said there are fears that the neighbourhood school, St. John Bosco, might close due to low enrolment. 

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Ward 5 city councillor Wally Collins. (CBC)

Collins said he searched for suitable land and finally came across six acres owned by the city, next to the Golden Vista Seniors Complex.

Collins said the city plans to partner with a private developer and put up more than two dozen affordable housing units on the space. City officials admit they still have to work out the finer details. But the plan is to retain enough control to make sure the houses are sold to the right people.

"We didn't want five or six people [with] a lot of money [to] come up and buy six or seven houses there, and then nobody from Shea Heights especially [to] get a chance. We're trying to get more children up there, basically."

The lots would be sold on the open market. But as planning director David Blackmore explained, it would not be a free-for-all, and the city would retain control over design and density.

"With the city staying in as a partner, there are means that we can ensure that we meet the client we're trying to reach," said Blackmore.