SHERBROOKE — The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s is focused on policies that support housing development, as the province lays out a five-year plan to tackle the issue throughout Nova Scotia.
On Oct. 25, the province released a five-year plan with a projected $1-billion investment in housing. The plan focuses on conditions to create 40,000 new housing units from one end of the province to the other.
Data released by the province includes St. Mary’s as part of the north shore region, which also includes the rest of Guysborough County, Pictou and Antigonish counties. The region had a shortfall of 2,550 units in 2022 and would need more than 1,000 units built annually to meet 2027 demand.
“Supporting the creation of housing is a top priority for municipal council,” said St. Mary’s Warden Greg Wier in a statement to The Journal on Oct. 26.
There was a shortage of approximately 60 units in the district at the end of 2022, according to the statement from the municipality. The number is expected to grow to 70 units by 2027, which is described as a significant amount for an area with a population just more than 2,000 people.
Limited rental housing for seniors and low-income people was also highlighted as a challenge by St. Mary’s.
“We have improved areas such as our land use by-law to allow for higher-density housing units in some areas. We have also updated the land use by-law to allow for more secondary houses. These are both tools that can increase the availability of housing units,” Wier said.
St. Mary’s council recently directed staff to apply for support from the federal housing accelerator fund. If successful, the municipality said it would allow for research into expanding water and wastewater services to help foster housing development.
“We are determined to make the problem manageable and to continue to take steps to help,” Wier said.