Nova Scotia

Tenants hopeful about new owners of Dartmouth housing complex

Residents of Ocean Breeze Village in Dartmouth were notified today that the housing complex has been sold to new owners Basin Heights Community Limited Partnership. Some residents are optimistic, and hope their voices will heard as part of the community's redevelopment.

Basin Heights Community Limited Partnership has purchased Ocean Breeze Village

Hundreds of people live in the Dartmouth neighbourhood, but face uncertain futures as the land is sold. (CBC)

Residents of Ocean Breeze Village in Dartmouth, N.S., were faced with an uncertain future when the 400-unit community went up for sale last year, but now they have a bit more clarity. 

Residents were informed by letter on Friday that the property has been purchased by a group of local real estate investors called Basin Heights Community Limited Partnership. It includes Cresco, Fares & Co. Development, and T & H Group Developments.

Ocean Breeze is a mix of about 400 townhouse-style apartments nestled into woods near the MacKay Bridge.

The units each have three or four bedrooms, putting the total population at around 1,000 people. Tenants say rents range from around $875 to $1,400. 

Celine Porcheron has lived in the community since 2017 and loves its tight-knit nature. She said she is optimistic about the new owners, but she wants the tenants' voices to be heard. 

"We're not just talking about selling a house or an apartment building. You're selling an entire community," Porcheron said. "So it's really on us to try and expose ourselves and let people know that we're here so that they realize that they're going to have to contend with us, too, whatever their plans are."

Celine Porcheron says Ocean Breeze is like a village and offers housing that would be nearly impossible to find elsewhere in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

As of now, the plans aren't clear. Sean Lewis, a representative for the group, told CBC News in a statement that the 12-hectare property will "eventually be reimagined to unlock its full potential and increase much needed housing."

Lewis said over the coming months, the group will begin planning, but there is currently no timeline as to when the project will begin.

"We believe Ocean Breeze Village can become a vibrant, active lifestyle community with a mix of housing options and amenities residents would expect — walking trails, cafes, restaurants, and more," he said. 

Lewis said this type of redevelopment is a "significant undertaking" that will likely take years. This means current residents will see no change for the foreseeable future, and they will continue dealing with the same property managers. 

Concerns about the sale

Porcheron said she has heard mixed opinions from other residents. 

"People are still not completely aware of what's going on," she said. "But I think there's a positive hope, because I think the biggest problem was the lack of communication."

The complex was built in 1963 and has since been owned by Dartmouth Investment Limited, a subsidiary of the Ontario-based Elia Corporation. Last fall, it was put up for sale, assessed at nearly $23.8 million.

"One of the biggest concerns was an outside interest coming in and not knowing anything about the needs of the community or the residents and just bulldozing everything and telling people to find other accommodations," Porcheron said. "And as we move forward with information, we realize that wasn't going to happen that way."

The letter from Basin Heights Community LP said the group is aware of the concerns raised by residents and wants to be as transparent as possible. 

Last year, residents created signs to spread awareness, as not everyone knew the complex was for sale. (CBC)

Porcheron said the letter from the new owners is quelling her fears, and she plans to get in touch with them to put forth the idea of a resident committee that can help with redevelopment ideas. 

She said many of the units have mould and structural issues, and are in need of repair. She hopes any new development includes low-cost housing, because few options exist in the area. 

She said though the future is uncertain, people are going to stay and see what happens.

"We have no choice," she said. "Where are we going to go? Nobody can move. If you have a place, you have to stay put."

Porcheron said she has a message for the new owners.

"I'd like them to see that this is more than just individuals living in units. Yes, we're 400 units, but we're over a thousand people with a multitude of stories. It's just a vibrant community, and that's worth protecting."