Housing development on hold in Inverness over lack of services
Company spent 2 years on 80-unit housing project but municipality still hasn't provided sewer, water costs
A developer has suspended plans for a large construction project in the growing Cape Breton community of Inverness over infrastructure concerns.
Dunmore Development of Antigonish has been working since 2018 to build an 80-unit housing project on property the company owns at the end of Veterans Memorial Court, just past the high school.
No one from Dunmore was available for an interview, but the company's Amanda Knight said the project has been put on hold for now because the county still has not come up with a cost for sewer and water hookups.
Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster said he has been trying to help the municipality find federal and provincial money to support infrastructure development because Inverness has become an attractive place to live and work and housing is needed.
"The community wants to grow," he said. "People want to live in Inverness and this would have been a big help.
"I'm disappointed, because here was something we could have celebrated as a success and, instead, we're seeing a company who was willing to go in and make an investment choose not to because they cannot get a clear answer as to when they can have water and sewer hookup."
Inverness has been struggling with aging infrastructure, exacerbated by growth in the community following the development of the popular Cabot golf courses. It has even had to turn away some development.
Last summer, the sewage lagoon stopped working and sparked widespread complaints about odour in the community, a popular tourist destination for its beach and other amenities.
MacMaster said he raised infrastructure concerns with Inverness council shortly after the last provincial election.
"So this is not something that's new. That was back in 2017," he said.
Keith MacDonald, Inverness's chief administrative officer, said staff have been working diligently to come up with cost estimates on the sewer and water hookups for Dunmore.
He also said the county has been working on plans to expand overall sewer and water capacity.
MacDonald said even though the developer has notified the county of its plan to halt the development, there are other proposed developments in the area, so staff are continuing to gather cost estimates to extend infrastructure on Veterans Memorial Court.
"Staff are still working towards the finalization of the expenses related to bringing services and upgrading the road to that particular area and we'll be presenting that to council hopefully within the next few months," he said.
In an email, Coun. Jim Mustard said he continues to work with county staff and the developer to find "an affordable way to manage the infrastructure costs for all sides."
"With over $40 million in infrastructure deficits in District 3, it's critical that we have a plan with cost estimates and possible funding partners [federal and provincial] moving forward to take care of what 'affordable' is, to the municipal share of costs, developer's share and homeowners' share.
"We have worked with other developments in District 3 to create housing options and it does take time, especially when the municipality needs to run new services and roads.
"I have supported this project from the beginning and hope they are open to revisiting this in the near future."