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3 Nova Scotia municipalities get $9M in federal housing money

Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz of the Municipality of the County of Kings with Kings–Hants MP Kody Blois during a housing accelerator fund announcement March 11, 2024.  (Municipality of the County of Kings - image credit)
Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz of the Municipality of the County of Kings with Kings–Hants MP Kody Blois during a housing accelerator fund announcement March 11, 2024. (Municipality of the County of Kings - image credit)

Three Nova Scotia municipalities are the latest to get millions in federal housing money that aims to cut red tape and fast-track the construction of homes.

On Monday, Ottawa announced over $9.1 million for the Municipality of the County of Kings, the Municipality of Chester, and the Town of Lunenburg through the housing accelerator fund.

The municipalities plan to build more than 500 units altogether over three years, and more than 1,800 over the next decade.

"You're always seeing people looking for housing, people on the brink of becoming homeless. So we really do have a lack of supply," Kings' Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz said after the announcement.

"It's not just in the cities, but it's happening everywhere."

Plans for Kings County

Kings County is getting about $6 million for various plans, including allowing four units per lot in residential areas within communities like New Minas, Kingston, Greenwood, Port Williams and Aylesford.

They will also promote modular and prefabricated housing units, and work with non-profits to preserve and increase the stock of rental homes. Chester and Kings both plan to bring in online permits, and develop pre-approved building plans for all types of housing.

The Municipality of Kings County government building in Kentville, NS.
The Municipality of Kings County government building in Kentville, NS.

The Municipality of Kings County government building in Kentville, NS. (Municipality of Kings County/Facebook)

Lutz said Kings aims to build about 220 new units with the new funds over the next three years, focusing on existing villages and communities where there are already services to ensure farmland is protected.

A provincial housing assessment said the municipality has a shortage of 230 units, which is expected to hit more than 1,135 by 2027 with expected population growth.

Plans for Chester

Chester will get about $2 million for its plans, which also include adapting to climate change risks, using municipal land for affordable housing, reducing fees for affordable units, and highlighting developable areas with wastewater services.

It's targeting 200 new units over the next three years with the funding.

"What's happening in a lot of places like Chester, is that what used to be affordable is now being taken up by others," Warden Allen Webber said.

'It's a big deal,' says warden

He added local businesses often can't find housing for their employees in the village, which is especially tough during the busy summer months.

A housing assessment said the median home prices for the Chester municipality increased 80 per cent from 2019 to 2022, compared to nine per cent the three years before that.

Chester has a housing gap of about 335 units, which is expected to grow to 620 by 2027.

"It's a big deal," Webber said.

"Where can you create this sort of density, and these changes ... to our community, that don't have negative impacts on the character and why it is people love to be here in the first place."

Webber said there will be opportunities for the public to weigh in on the proposed land-use changes as they eventually come forward.

He added the municipality has not yet brought in regulations for short-term rentals like Airbnbs, which have happened in Halifax and are also being examined by other rural municipalities.

About three per cent (200 units) in Chester are short-term rentals, the housing assessment said.

"Did we always have that taking place during Chester Race Week? Yes, but now it's taking place all year long and it's certainly limiting the availability of homes," Webber said.

"We have to control it in a better fashion than what we do today."

Lunenburg

The Town of Lunenburg is getting $1.1 million to create development districts, incentives for affordable housing, a fee rebate for new accessible units, and subsidize infrastructure costs that support housing.

Housing costs have also jumped in the historic town, increasing 105 per cent from 2019 to 2022 according to the housing assessment.

The province said it is ending its offer to buy the Lunenburg Foundry Shipyard on the waterfront and notified sellers earlier this week.
The province said it is ending its offer to buy the Lunenburg Foundry Shipyard on the waterfront and notified sellers earlier this week.

The Town of Lunenburg is getting about $1 million from the federal housing accelerator fund to fast-track housing construction. (Gary Yim/Shutterstock)

Lunenburg aims to build more than 135 units with the money over three years.

"With this funding, we are empowered to not only provide shelter but also to foster vibrant and inclusive communities where families can thrive and grow," Mayor Jamie Myra said in a statement.

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