June 27 set for public hearing on 6-storey Lafford apartment building

Drawing of 6-storey, 71-unit apartment building John Lafford is proposing for the back portion of his property at 131 Main St.

Tantramar Town Council will hold a public hearing at 3 p.m. on June 27th to hear any objections to plans by JN Lafford Realty to build a six storey, 71-unit apartment building at 131 Main Street on property behind the historic Allison/Fisher/Fawcett House.

Sackville developer John Lafford has applied for two changes to the municipal zoning bylaw to make the building possible:

(1) the property (approximately 1.3 acres) would need to be rezoned to Urban Residential 3 (R3) to allow for a residential building with more than six apartments.

(2) height restrictions in the R3 zone would need to be changed from a maximum of 15.3 metres (50 feet) to 19.8 metres (65 feet).

At its meeting last night, council set the date for the public hearing and also voted to refer the requested zoning changes to the planners at the Southeast Regional Service Commission for their comments.

Objections from neighbour

Earlier, councillors heard a presentation from Alexandrya Eaton who is part owner of the adjacent property at 135 Main Street.

She told councillors the owners take pride in maintaining their property in a quiet area of town with surrounding natural green space that provides habitat for wildlife.

Alexandrya Eaton addressing council last night

“It is therefore, of grave concern that a six-storey building, which would make it the highest building in town and with underground parking, so effectively seven storeys visible from the Waterfowl Park in the back, could be built just 10 feet from our property line towering over the existing single-family homes in the area,” she said.

Eaton went on to raise concerns about traffic and fire safety and argued that there are properties in Sackville better suited to such a development other than the historic area on Main Street.

“What we need are small, affordable, single-family dwellings suitable for young families and senior citizens similar to the co-op housing which will be the most drastically affected by this project,” she said, referring to the nearby Marshwinds Housing Co-op at 127-129 Main Street.

“You decide the bylaws, not developers,” Eaton said, “and you have the opportunity to firmly state that this development, in this location, is not what we want for our town.”

Later, Councillor Michael Tower said that although he appreciated Eaton’s presentation, council needs to hear more before it makes any decisions.

“By having this go to a public meeting, it gives everybody a chance to either, come to be here, or write letters to us so that we can really get feedback from the public as a whole,” he said.

For previous coverage, click here.

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21 Responses to June 27 set for public hearing on 6-storey Lafford apartment building

  1. IndieMediaEastcoast Canada says:

    Sackville has a housing shortage and John Lafford is providing housing.
    Having that many small units will be great for the young people and the elderly seeking small decent accommodation. I support this construction work which will create lots of local jobs for hardworking tradesmen. Well done Bruce Wark covering this story, which is unfortunately controversial when it really should not be. Housing has been a hot topic in the area for at least two years as I recall and if a quality builder wants to help the locals out while he has been so busy building in Moncton a precedent setting trio of towers perhaps showing gratitude is the right thing to do… Grieving the loss of his wife who was taken far too young, I have to admire his tenacity and work ethic. If you don’t want to live next to apartments then you have the option to move your wealth elsewhere.

    • Elaine says:

      Interesting that you say “if you don’t want to live next to apartments…”

      Well she wasn’t and that is the point.

      The apartments are, in this case, moving into her ‘space’, as it were. So why, then, can’t the apartments go elsewhere instead? I mean I doubt you’ll find anyone to argue against the need to have more housing, but it’s the kind that’s the issue. And this kind isn’t needed in this spot. Move the apartments elsewhere.

      • Tristan says:

        Why do homeowners with secured housing get to be gatekeepers for renters? It’s not Alexandra’s space, how does she feel about student residences just a stones throw away? or the students living in 131 already?
        It is needed in this spot because many renters don’t own vehicles to get themselves around. Having dense housing in our downtown makes sense to me when the majority of amenities are downtown. Not everyone is so privileged to have a secure roof over their head and a vehicle in their driveway.

        I’m tired of the “i got mine” attitude in Sackville.

      • IndieMediaEastcoast Canada says:

        I think you missed the part where I said “move her wealth elsewhere” as she is clearly very wealthy and just one woman – her property is located in the centre of town [not in a forested oasis out of town] so why would she not just move to a roomy place in the country and take her money, car, furniture, etc. with her too? What Tristan is saying is the truth: many youth today cannot imagine owning a home or a car … we have destroyed the wealth of this nation through the agenda in place since the 90s, wealth stripping, redistribution of wealth, and so we now have a lot of poorer people who need homes and don’t have the financial wealth to own and MUST rent… why would anyone want to deny them some decent new housing? Lafford is not obligated to make ‘co-op’ housing anymore than the government is… we have a classic case of NIMBYism here… which is unfortunate because Lafford’s property would be giving some vitality to the core and possibly the “Joey’s Pizza” could relocate into his old heritage home giving that space some vibrancy too… lots of possibilities to be honest – just have to be imaginative here.. not negative.

  2. Jon says:

    What’s the current vacancy rate for rental properties in Sackville?

    • Tristan says:


      • Erica Butler says:

        What’s your source on that, Tristan?

      • Percy Best says:

        I do wonder how many additional student ‘beds’ will be available in 16 months when Mount A reopens Harper Hall after it’s major ongoing renovation.

        I don’t see the actual number anywhere on the internet but I would imagine it will be over 120 which is very considerable being as the student population is actually less now than it was about five years ago.

        There may just be an excess of in-town accommodations available for the Fall of 2024 if Mount A’s student count doesn’t get back to near 2500.

  3. Jon says:

    It’s a factor to consider when deciding to approve the development or not: is it supplying housing to a market that lacks vacancies, or would it pull rental customers from other locations in a market that has sufficient vacancies already (and will the market be oversupplied in the near future, for instance with the imminent renovation of Harper Hall as mentioned by Percy Best above).

    This is in addition to considerations such as whether it’s appropriate for the site, and the pros and cons of high-density housing in Sackville with no increase in municipal services and facilities.

  4. Monika says:

    There are many seniors who are currently owning their single family homes in Sackville, and who are waiting on Mr. Lafford’s housing lists. I am one of them. As we get older, we need or want to move into a smaller appartment. It’s not only students who are looking for housing. Seniors would free up single family buildings if they could move to a nice appartment building.

  5. Azi says:

    I wonder:
    1-Why Mr. Lafford chooses controversial sites for his buildings (in Sackville)? He had to demolish a heritage building then destroy a beautiful site with mature trees and now this one …why he doesn’t choose other less controversial spots, Sackville has plenty of them..
    2-why do Sackvillians think they have to stick to the core downtown…why do neither businesses nor people look at the surroundings? I think instead of a rental housing shortage, Sackville has a lack of public transportation issue.
    3-If there is population growth and a shortage of rental residential space in Sackville (I certainly do not think so), then why do some businesses close in Sackville during the Summertime, when students leave Mount A as CTV news reports: “The students from Mount Allison University are gone for the summer and so too are some landmark businesses.”(CTV News-May 10, 2023)

    • Tristan says:

      I’m curious Azi, when was the last time you looked for an apartment in Sackville?

    • Tristan says:

      @Azi – sure it does, because you making the claim there isn’t an apartment shortage tells me you haven’t looked recently.
      Laffords website only shows their properties, not what’s available to rent or not. You need to call for that info. It says that right on the listing “call for availability”.

      • Azi says:

        If I am not misunderstanding you Tristan, you are telling me that what is advertised on the Lafford realty website is not reflecting reality. So, if that is the case this may be a way of selecting tenants or it may be incorrect advertisements. Otherwise, they should write on their website: No Vacancies.

      • Tristan says:

        @Azi, it reflects reality quite well actually. The listings show the apartments that Lafford Realty owns, it says on the listing to call for availability. That’s very clear to me.
        I’m not sure what else to say, Sackville very much has a housing crisis much like the rest of Canada. Young people leave your community every week because they cannot find affordable housing in the area, let alone housing that doesn’t require a vehicle.

  6. Jon says:

    The link posted by a commenter above
    points to another interesting subject for an article, and for discussion in council: what percentage of rental housing in Sackville is controlled by Lafford Realty.

    The number of buildings shown at laffordrealty.com indicates it must be a pretty significant percentage. All levels of government have a responsibility to ensure a healthy marketplace by countering monopolies. The town needs to examine that issue openly and fully before it votes on whether to increase the company’s slice of the market with a new building so large that it requires special approval.

    • Tristan says:

      Spoken like someone with a secured roof over their head. The privilege in these comments by older folk is startling. Your community is going to die a slow painful death if you want to be gatekeepers over who gets to live here.

      • Jon says:

        That’s quite a collection of patronizing assumptions you’re making about me, Tristan. I’m quite familiar with renting in Sackville, but thanks for demonstrating the bad-faith debating potential of ad hominem attacks and strawman arguments.

        No one is trying to act as a gatekeeper of who lives here, and no, we’re not going to “die a slow painful death” simply because we question totally unregulated capitalism and monopoly. As usual today, the accusation of “privilege” is used to say “shut up, your views don’t count.”

        The whole point of regulating monopolies is to prevent them from exploiting their customers. In other words, to keep them from exploiting renters in this case.

      • Azi says:

        I totally agree with Jon. “All levels of government have a responsibility to ensure a healthy marketplace by countering monopolies. The town needs to examine that issue openly and fully before it votes on whether to increase the company’s slice of the market with a new building so large that it requires special approval.” This is even more critical given the history of the town and this particular site.

        The town council and maybe Ms. Bickford is also responsible for not planning very well for the housing requirements of the community. They should have an answer for Tristan’s concern that the “community is going to die a slow painful death” because of the housing crisis that Tristan is talking about. One building built by any developer will not solve the issue of “having no roof over heads”..it is temporary. There should be good planning for the future and the community should not fight/suffer like this. There should be proper and clear planning for the growth of the community in the coming years by those responsible.

      • Tristan says:

        @Jon – Do you think that matters to people who are struggling to keep or find a roof over their heads? People are desperate, that’s the last thing people care about. But as I said, that view comes from a place of privilege because you don’t need to worry about said roof over your head.
        Have a good one. Good luck with keeping your population young and healthy, I’ve already left.

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