GUYSBOROUGH — With a stroke of its pen, the Municipality of District of Guysborough (MODG) paved the way last week for new housing for healthcare professionals in key communities.
The transfer of three plots of municipal land – two in Guysborough and one in Canso – to the non-profit Housing Trust of Nova Scotia (HTNS) came at a council meeting on Oct. 18, immediately following a brief public hearing to consider community feedback on a plan that could see construction begin on more than a dozen rental homes over the next several months.
MODG Development Officer Deborah Torrey noted that, as there were no objections, written or presented, from the public, “Be it therefore moved that the council of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough to approve the sale-donation of three parcels of land for the nominal fee of one dollar [each] for modular housing project for healthcare workers in accordance with sections 50 and 51 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA).”
The MGA stipulates that a municipality may sell or lease property at a price less than market value to any non-profit organization its council considers “to be carrying out an activity that is beneficial to the municipality,” only after holding a public hearing. The properties in question – at Cutler’s Estates in Guysborough and Wilmot Street in Canso – are estimated to have a commercial value of approximately $35,000 apiece.
During deliberations, District 3 (North Riverside, Boylston, Manchester, St. Francis Harbour, Melford, and Auld’s Cove) Councillor Neil DeCoff wondered who had responsibility for the new buildings, if “something [goes] astray... Does the property and structure go to the trust, or back to the municipality?” Torrey confirmed that, following the land transfer, the properties would be owned by the province.
Reached by phone following the unanimous vote to approve, HTNS Executive Director Angela Bishop said, “We are very excited. It is good news for [our] board.”
Earlier this year, the provincial government authorized the non-profit to administer its $20 million Housing for Healthcare Initiative.
“A shortage of ready-to-develop land for modular housing generally in Nova Scotia has been one of the main barriers to delivering on our agreement with the province and getting healthcare teams where they are needed,” Bishop said in an interview on Oct. 12.
Last week, she added, “Right now, the sites [in MODG] would accommodate 14 to 16 houses, and we still have to have an architect go and take a look,” clarifying a comment in last week’s paper that as many as 24 homes were planned right away.
“There are many factors, [and] the numbers do need to be confirmed. We’re looking at a phase one and phase two... We’ll be in Guysborough soon to visit.”