Affordable housing to be made a requirement for NBEx development
The city and the NBEx started working together in 2019 on plan to redevelop property
At least 20 per cent of the units in all housing projects built in the redevelopment of the NBEx site in Fredericton will be considered affordable housing, according to the plan that will guide that redevelopment.
The city's Planning Advisory Committee approved the NBEx Secondary Municipal Plan at Wednesday night's meeting. The city and Fredericton Exhibition Ltd., also known as NBEx, started working together in 2019 on a plan for the development of the site.
The plan defines "affordable" as being at least 10 per cent below average market rents.
Because the property is owned by the city, and leased by the NBEx, the city can mandate the housing requirements, said Ken Forrest, director of growth and community services.
"We're trying to find strategic opportunities to unlock affordable housing wherever we can," said Forrest. "And I think one of the real innovations of this plan is that there's an opportunity to do that here, because the city and the NBEx have kind of agreed on a shared notion that there would be affordable housing specifically targeted for this property as portions of it redevelop."
The city expects to grow to 90,000 people in the next 20 years and that a lot of those people will want to live downtown. The plan estimates that 800-1,200 housing units could be built on the NBEx Grounds.
"Anyone who lives in Fredericton would know that there's been a tremendous amount of development, kind of in both the south core of the city centre and the north core over the past number of years," said Forrest. "And so there's not a lot of available land left. And so the ability to over time unlock the New Brunswick Exhibition is the next big development kind of opportunity in the urban core, Fredericton, which is where, you know, a lot of people want to live."
During the public consultations for the site in the fall of 2022, most people who attended brought up the desire for affordable housing on the site. Forrest said the decision to require it will open up opportunities to work with the non-profit, social housing and cooperative sectors on projects.
"We're very optimistic," he said. "This is highly desirable land in a fantastic location. I think everyone in the development community will have an interest in trying to develop here. So it's hopefully something that will be seen as attractive and including affordable housing as part of those projects hopefully will be seen to be positive as well."
The plan includes three scenarios for development potential, combining residential, commercial and recreational development in different ways. It could see a school built there or even a field house.
The NBEx will remain on the site but likely have a smaller footprint, said executive director Mike Vokey.
"The Exhibition is going to be changing over the next decade, 10 years from now, 20 years, 30 years from now, it's going to look a lot different," said Vokey. "So it really helps push the exhibition into being more forward thinking instead of dwelling on the history."
The plan still needs to be passed by council.