New Brunswick

Fredericton one step closer to more affordable housing

At Monday night’s meeting, council passed a rezoning bylaw through second reading to allow for the construction of two new buildings on Jaffrey Street and Albert Street. 

City donates land and funds for new units

Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien said the city donated land for new buildings and is also contributing more than $100,000. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Fredericton is one step closer to having more affordable housing in the city. 

At Monday night's meeting, city council passed a rezoning bylaw through second reading to allow for the construction of two new buildings on Jaffrey Street and Albert Street. 

One building will contain three one-bedroom units and the other will contain four. 

"The city taking this approach is really a breakthrough for the city," said Brian Duplessis, chair of the board of the Fredericton Homeless Shelters. Duplessis also sits on the Housing First Committee. 

"The city is making a direct contribution for the very first time to help those who are homeless in this city."

The municipal government donated the land for the new builds and is also contributing more than $100,000 to the overall project. 

"The city traditionally doesn't support the shelters, it's seen as a provincial responsibility," said Duplessis.

Brian Duplessis, chair of the board of the Fredericton Homeless Shelters, said the city doesn't traditionally support shelters. (CBC)

Mayor Mike O'Brien said the move puts the city outside of its comfort zone. 

"Municipal taxes are not supposed to be going into social issues," he said, citing that healthcare, education and social issues are the responsibility of the provincial government and not a municipality.

"But they are our residents," said O'Brien. "And so we have found a way to to be able to assist with a minor contribution of some funds and donating some surplus land." 

A lack of affordable housing has been a rising problem in Fredericton, with experts saying the city has entered a "crisis."

According to the Community Action Group on Homelessness's 2017 annual progress report, the average rent for a two-bedroom unit climbed from $809 a month in 2014 to $860 in 2017, while social assistance remained unchanged at $537.

Duplessis said the project was a long time coming and has been a collaboration by all levels of government and community organizations. 

"We're not the first to be doing it here in Fredericton," he said. "This is being done in other places across Canada. It's the first that we're seeing it here and it's a huge step."

These are the first of 40 units that Housing First is expecting to build in the coming years, said Duplessis.

The rezoning bylaws still have to pass third reading on Dec. 9. 

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