North-end Halifax forum discusses gentrification fears

Fears of a growing divide between have and have-nots in north-end Halifax have prompted a group of residents to organize a public forum Thursday to discuss gentrification in the neighbourhood.

Concerns rising rental and property costs will drive out people with lower incomes

Some people in Halifax's north end are working to try and stop gentrification in their neighbourhood. A public forum is being held tonight to discuss the issue. (Molly Segal/CBC)

Fears of a growing divide between have and have-nots in north-end Halifax prompted a group of residents to organize a public forum Thursday to discuss gentrification in the neighbourhood.

They're worried the growing number of well-off condo dwellers are raising property values and rent, driving off people with lower incomes. 

"Everywhere you turn it's a condo, it's a condo," said Darryl King, who rents an apartment on Gottingen Street.  

More than 100 people attended the forum at the Brunswick Street Mission. Organizers hope to eventually come up with a plan to convince the municipality and the province to build more affordable housing in the area. They will likely hold another meeting.    

King said he doesn't mind new developments, but wants them balanced with affordable housing in the neighbourhood. 

Right now he pays $600 a month for a bachelor apartment. He dreams of moving into a one-bedroom, but can't find one in the north end in his price range and doesn't know what he'll do if rent in his building increases. 

'Who can afford that?'

The growing number of condos has driven away some people who contemplated moving into the neighbourhood, including Matthew Richey. 

He planned to move to the north end a few years ago, but said a real estate ad for $300,000 condos around Cornwallis Street made him notice a trend of "displacement" in the area. 

"This pisses me off, because who can afford that? It's not a community I wanted to be part of, the community I wanted to be a part of was pushed out," said Richey. 

Richey said any housing or condo development priced above the reach of the local community forces somebody to leave. 

"New people with more wealth move into an area, displacing the existing population," he said. "And the people that are participating in that may not realize that they're agents in the destruction of a community."

Richey eventually ended up settling in Dartmouth. 

With files from Paul Palmeter

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