The City of Fredericton says the first half of the year has broken previous records for permitted construction, reaching $134.6 million.
That’s $20.3 million more than all of 2021 and double the city’s 10-year average for construction activity.
Coun. Jason LeJeune, who is chair of the economic vitality committee, says the new units are needed to keep up with population growth and relieve pressure on the existing housing stock.
“The first half of 2022 has been record-breaking when it comes to the total value of construction, the highest value of residential construction, and the largest number of multiple-unit starts,” he said in a press release.
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The city is reporting that single-detached dwellings were to 80 in the first half of 2022, up from 47 in the first half of 2021.
A total of 379 multiple units were constructed in the first half of 2022, compared with 363 for the same period in 2021.
In total, 459 residential units were created overall from January to June 2022, up 49 from the first half of 2021, according to the city.
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However, the New Brunswick Tenants Coalition said development without affordability only goes so far. Matthew Hayes, with the coalition, said many new developments do not include affordable units.
According to the national definition, an affordable rent is no more than 30 per cent of a person’s gross income. As of October 2021, the average rent in Fredericton for a one-bedroom apartment is about $950, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
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Hayes said there could be more responsibility and onus on municipal governments to act on non-profit housing and affordable units.
“They (municipal governments) have the ability to pass inclusionary zoning,” he said. “It would require a certain percentage of the units built in these new buildings to meet affordability criteria.”
He said he knows that there is a hesitancy to force developers to do this in fear they might take the business elsewhere, but he believes that isn’t the reality, and said forcing them might be the only way.
“They’re going to build as much as they can, as quickly as possible, so if you want them to build affordable units, you’re going to have to force them to do so,” Hayes said.
Hayes said the coalition hears so many tragic stories of people being pushed out of their homes due to “renovictions” and rent increases — many without any recourse to stop it from happening.
“I cannot begin to convey to you how scared tenants are,” he said. “We really need to put a floor under that and to do that we need permanent rent control. We needed it two years ago.”
Temporary rent control has been implemented by the provincial government, but it has made no commitment to extend it.
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