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by Andrea Zusnabar

New Brunswick is currently grappling with a housing crisis, fueled by its rapidly growing population. To address this critical issue, a diverse group of stakeholders, including government officials and business leaders, recently convened in a webinar hosted by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with StrategyCorp.

The webinar served as a platform for panelists, including Minister Jill Green, responsible for Housing in New Brunswick, Mayor Kate Rogers of Fredericton, and Aidan Grove-White, Vice President at StrategyCorp.  The panelists discussed how the newly released Housing Strategy could effectively tackle the challenges facing the province.

The vision of the housing strategy is that through ongoing collaboration, innovative solutions, and a commitment to affordable and accessible housing, New Brunswick can build a brighter future where all residents have a place to call home.

Collaboration and Stakeholder Engagement:

One consistent theme that emerged from the discussion was the importance of a collaborative effort from all stakeholders in addressing the housing crisis. Cooperation between municipalities, provinces, federal entities, private developers, and non-profit housing organizations is essential for identifying suitable properties for housing development, streamlining regulations, and providing necessary services and infrastructure. While government agencies are primarily responsible for identifying properties, involving the private and not-for-profit sectors can bring additional expertise, resources, and innovative approaches to finding housing solutions. Recognizing that the housing crisis is a collective problem underscores the need for broad-based cooperation and support from all sectors.

Impact of the Housing Strategy in Urban Areas:

While the housing strategy was discussed, concerns were raised regarding its applicability to urban areas like Fredericton. Mayor Kate Rogers expressed the need for a more comprehensive approach to addressing issues such as short-term rentals and rent regulations. However, several components of the strategy, including reducing red tape around subsidized housing, funding for student housing units, and increasing the supply of skilled trades professionals, can be of benefit to urban centers, according to Mayor Rogers. Minister Green emphasized the importance of bringing the entire province to the same level before implementing an urban-focused strategy, while also acknowledging the significance of collaborating with urban partners to make government surplus properties available for affordable housing development.

Tax Burden and Affordability by Design:

Participants expressed concerns about the tax burden that poses obstacles to housing development, particularly with the property tax on non-owner-occupied residential properties. Recognizing the urgency of the matter, all participants emphasized the necessity for tax reforms to address this issue. One specific proposal put forward was the potential implementation of tax relief during the construction phase of multi-residential projects, which would alleviate the burden and encourage the development of such properties.

In the new Housing Strategy, there is a focus on providing stability to homeowners and renters through measures such as extending property tax relief and implementing a 10% spike protection mechanism on value assessments. These initiatives aim to mitigate the challenges faced by residents and ensure a more secure housing environment.

However, the participants also acknowledged the need for reforms that go beyond temporary relief and actively promote the development of affordable housing from the initial design stage, offering long-term solutions. One suggestion put forth was the provision of HST credits on building products, particularly for purpose-built rental units. By offering incentives to developers who prioritize affordability, this approach seeks to encourage the construction of housing options that are accessible to a wider range of residents.

Defining Affordability for Rental Housing:

The Housing Strategy adopts the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) affordability definition, with the goal of reducing the number of households that allocate more than 30% of their income to housing expenses to 15%. According to the government, affordability is prioritized through upfront contributions and direct benefits to tenants. However, there is a recognized need to reconsider the approach to affordability and examine strategies that encourage affordability from the beginning.

Supporting Shelter Spaces and Social Housing:

While discussions surrounding shelter spaces and supportive services for high-acuity individuals were held, it is important to note that the Housing Strategy does not directly target these specific areas.

However, the government has expressed a commitment to addressing homelessness through separate measures. They plan to develop a dedicated homelessness strategy that will focus on providing shelter spaces, supportive services, and pathways to stable housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Collaboration between the housing sector and social development remains crucial for ensuring a holistic and effective response to homelessness, as well as providing affordable and accessible housing options for all residents.

Collaboration with CMHC:

Collaboration with CMHC was emphasized as crucial in addressing housing challenges. The close working relationship between municipalities and CMHC was highlighted, with CMHC providing funding through programs like the Rapid Housing Initiative and the Housing Accelerator Fund. Minister Green expressed the province’s commitment to leveraging CMHC’s expertise and working closely with them to effectively tackle housing challenges, recognizing their valuable involvement in shaping housing initiatives. This collaborative approach between New Brunswick and CMHC was seen as instrumental in advancing housing reforms.

Inclusionary Zoning and Alternative Solutions:

During the discussion, Mayor Kate Rogers shared her reservations about the effectiveness of inclusionary zoning regulations. Research findings supported the exploration of more promising avenues to achieve affordable housing goals in New Brunswick. This led Mayor Rogers and her team to shift their focus towards analyzing zoning regulations and leveraging incentives to encourage the development of affordable housing designs. Additionally, they recognized the importance of collaborating with the non-profit sector to strengthen affordable housing initiatives in Fredericton and the wider province. By considering a range of strategies, including zoning reforms and non-profit sector enhancements, Mayor Rogers and her team aim to foster long-term positive outcomes in their pursuit of affordable housing solutions

Business Community Support:

Engaging businesses as partners in housing projects and advocating for government initiatives not only stimulates economic vibrancy but also fosters community growth. Aiden from StrategyCorp emphasizes the significance of garnering support from the business community and highlights the need to educate business leaders about the benefits that new projects or policies can bring.

Recognizing the mutual benefits, such as increased foot traffic and overall community vibrancy, the business community actively contributes to resolving the housing crisis. It is vital for the private sector to support the decisions made by elected officials, as this collective effort leads to the betterment of the entire community. The business community’s active participation ensures that housing initiatives are successful and sustainable for the benefit of all.


We are pleased to provide our readers with access to the full recording of the recent webinar hosted by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and StrategyCorp.

For those who prefer visual content, you can watch the webinar on YouTube at the following link: YouTube Webinar Video. Additionally, for those who prefer audio content or wish to listen on the go, the webinar is also available as a podcast episode on various platforms, including Spotify. You can listen to the podcast episode here: Housing in Atlantic Canada – Podcast Episode.

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