Housing crisis

Cape Breton mayor speaks out on housing crisis

Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayor says her community is on the brink of a housing crisis. She is now talking about a major affordable housing project delayed by bureaucracy.

The population of CBRM could soon reach 100,000 for the first time in 40 years, causing a housing crisis for many residents.

It’s bad enough that elected officials are inundated with voicemails and emails asking for help finding a place of their own.

“You are going to see, on a daily basis, requests for help from residents saying: ‘I need to get into housing. The lists are too long. We are at risk of becoming homeless, said CBRM Mayor Amanda MacDougall.

MacDougall noted that the lack of vacancies and affordable housing has affected everyone from international students and single parents to homeless people.

Six months ago there was a proposal to build over 400 new units on the old Tartan Downs race track.

MacDougall says it was delayed because the development does not qualify under Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) national housing strategy.

“You pretty much get kicked out of the application process at the start because we’re talking about urban [and] rural mixes,” she explained. “It doesn’t fit with CMHC funding.

Kent MacIntyre, project manager at Cape Breton University, says if things don’t change, the proposal could be jeopardized.

“I’m quite disappointed,” he said, calling the proposal a “game changer” for the region. “We need housing and we need it now. We have pointed this out at CMHC. I know they understand that, but we still have to get them to a point where the non-refundable portion is significantly higher than what they prepared to offer during the application process.

CTV Atlantic contacted CMHC for comment, but did not receive any by the deadline.

“Humans will become homeless if we don’t find ways to change our programs to create more housing options,” MacDougall said.

Now the mayor wants CMHC to come back to the table with the project partners to find a solution.