Tantramar Town Council has voted 8-1 to give Sackville developer John Lafford the rezoning he needs for a six-storey, 71-unit apartment building at 131 Main Street.
The zoning changes to allow a large, multi-unit building that is 19.8 metres (65 feet) high passed first and second readings Tuesday with final approval at a later meeting almost certain.
Four of the five members of council, who spoke in favour, cited the urgent need for housing as one of the main reasons for their support.
“Being a younger member of the council, I can’t help but look at my 13-year-old child and consider the very real possibility that if things continue on their current path, he will not be able to find [an] affordable, well-maintained place to live in town,” said Councillor Josh Goguen, who spoke first.
“Our community needs housing,” said Councillor Allison Butcher. “I think that with the housing crisis the way it is now and our downtown core the way it is now, we’re in a crisis situation and we need to move forward with the possibility of having any new housing in our area that we can.”
“I know of at least two people in Moncton who are looking forward to move back to Sackville when this thing gets built,” said Councillor Michael Tower. “You take into consideration that we could have a nursing school here. They’re going to need accommodations.”
“There is an absolute shortage of housing all across this nation,” said Mayor Andrew Black, “and if we have an opportunity to build it in town safely, securely with a wonderful build that is supportive of the community, I think that we need to take advantage of that.”
Deputy Mayor Greg Martin, who also voted in favour, acknowledged that the proposed building has generated plenty of controversy.
“I, like all of the members of council I’m sure, have been swamped by differences of opinions, e-mails, sometimes as many as a dozen a day,” Martin said.
“I’ve had time to talk to a lot of people and some of my favourite friends at Tim Hortons have given me opinions on both sides,” he added, “but I think we have to move forward.”
To read a transcript of their remarks, click here.
Councillor Bruce Phinney voted against the zoning changes, but did not speak during the council discussion.
He told reporters later that he feels the building’s location would cause severe traffic congestion and its apartments would not be affordable.
“I don’t think it’s going to resolve our housing problem,” he said. “Most rents, the way I’ve looked at it over the years are based on two salaries and if it’s about a thousand dollars, that’s five hundred bucks a piece, that’s fine, but for the ordinary person not making very much money, that’s really steep.”
To read a transcript of Phinney’s remarks, click here.
Third reading (final approval) of the zoning changes is expected at the next regular council meeting on August 8th.
To read earlier coverage, click here.