New Brunswick

Deadline looms for province on funding Moncton affordable housing plan

The New Brunswick government has less than a week to decide whether to back an affordable housing plan in Moncton, or risk the group’s founders abandoning the concept.

Co-founder had set Christmastime as deadline, or effort would end

Dale Hicks, one of the founders of Rising Tide, says the group won't go ahead with the plan to create 125 units of affordable housing over three years if it can't get provincial funding to match the city's commitment. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The New Brunswick government has less than a week to decide whether to back an affordable housing plan in Moncton, or risk the group's founders abandoning the concept.

Rising Tide Community Initiatives secured a commitment from the City of Moncton to back its plan with $6 million over the next three years — but only if the province offers matching funding. 

Rising Tide wants to house 125 people within three years, starting with people who are chronically homeless. The idea developed from the city's strategy to boost the availability of affordable housing and address homelessness. 

Dale Hicks, one of the founders of Rising Tide, said founders will walk away from the project if there isn't a decision by next week.

"By Christmastime this thing is either going to be a done deal, or done," Hicks said Nov. 2. 

Moncton council voted in November to spent $6 million on the Rising Tide plan but only if the province provides matching funding. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Robert Duguay, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, said the province had no further information to share when asked Thursday if a decision had been made. 

Hicks declined an interview this week but said in a statement that there have been positive discussions recently with the province. 

He has requested time to speak at city council on Monday evening, the final chance before his Christmas deadline. 

"I am hopeful that I will be able to present some good news as we head into Christmas," Hicks wrote in an email.

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold remained optimistic that with less than a week to go, there would be a "Christmas miracle."

"If it doesn't happen, well, that would be very sad," Arnold said. 

She said the city has no backup plan to boost affordable housing in the way Rising Tide envisions if the funding is denied. 

Arnold said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch has asked for patience regarding Rising Tide in recent meetings. 

Bruce Fitch, the New Brunswick Social Development minister, said last month that the government was still evaluating the Rising Tide business plan. (CBC)

Fitch told CBC News last month that the province has been evaluating the Rising Tide business plan. 

"I've brought in a number of different departments to see if we can obtain funding within their budgets to find money for the ask," Fitch said. 

Asked if the province would have a decision by the Christmastime deadline Hicks outlined at the city council meeting, Fitch wouldn't offer a firm answer. 

"I'm not going to put a timeline," he said. "We're doing the work I feel that has to be done to give this project the consideration and the due diligence that's necessary when you make a commitment of this size." 

Rising Tide was founded by Hicks, president of the Food Depot Alimentaire, Debbie McInnis, the executive director of the United Way of Southeast New Brunswick, and Joanne Murray, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Southeastern New Brunswick.


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