Final approval for controversial Lafford bldg. in Sackville now seems certain

Artist’s rendition of six storey, 71-unit apartment building

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.

Councillor Allison Butcher

“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.

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12 Responses to Final approval for controversial Lafford bldg. in Sackville now seems certain

  1. Ralston says:

    Great news. Look forward to additional requests from more potential development of more like sized and higher buildings to the downtown Sackville core. Finally a council not threatened by the mob.

    • Jon says:

      “threatened by the mob” – ie, presented with concerns by the citizens who elected them.

      • Ralston says:

        Well, small sect of more radical types that basically oppose anything not environmentally sustainable in their views(just more ponds and walkways) . Build more and build higher as far as I see. May jumpstart a dead to business town again.

    • Elaine says:

      Threatened by a mob? Are you kidding? Giving concerns about fire response ability, traffic congestion and the suitability of the site isn’t “threats by a mob”.

      And I purposefully left out the rent cost issue since no one even wants to consider that.

  2. local citizen says:

    Town council: just make it official and change our name to Laffordville, it’s clearly his town.

  3. Dodie Perkin says:

    I don’t think the issue with this building is whether or not Sackville needs more housing — I’m pretty sure the vast majority of residents agree that we need more housing, especially affordable family housing. And personally, my issue is not with the Laffords. They build good quality buildings, unlike some others, and they have a very good reputation as landlords. The issue for me is the size of this building in this particular location, and the potential implications of building it so close to the Waterfowl Park, which, yes, *might* be discussed at some future time, but these comments by these councillors make it sound like anyone who has any concerns about this project is completely against building any new housing, and that’s just not the case.

    In my conversations with a couple of councillors who asked for my opinion, it was quite apparent to me that they had already made up their minds, and they were not really interested in hearing what I had to say if I did not unequivocally support this proposal. And to be clear, I am not against this project. I (and many others) have reservations and questions about its location, none of which Town Council appears interested in addressing.

  4. S.A. Cunliffe says:

    Good… and I can see why more people want to live in the downtown of this charming old eastcoast town… its enchanting and draws people from around the world to its safe and cozy – unique and appealling setting… there really is nothing wrong with more variety of homes for people in the core… it brings life and energy to this little quaint hub! Be grateful that Lafford is so determined… many people find the NIMBY attitude of the ‘educated chattering class’ here to be a little off-putting. but… I just chuckle at them..they are not the majority and they’re often petty people oblivious to the big picture because they cannot relate to the working class people which would include our valuable tradesmen who build things, create things, repair things, with their skilled hands – Sackville will grow out and up through the coming decades as more people flee cities that are not beautiful or appealling anymore.. just celebrate your great town and leave it at that! Welcome change and welcome people here.

    Evening walks when that Tantramarshire breeze is blowing: priceless.

    • Elaine says:

      Yeah, Lafford was so determined he didn’t care what input or concerns there was, he was going to build. Period.

      Dismissing legitimate concerns and continually misrepresenting it as somehow a suggestion that people don’t think we need more housing is akin to a kid sticking fingers in their ears so they don’t hear any other opinion but their own.

      We welcome change, we welcome people, but evidently the town does NOT welcome valid concerns about how OUR town develops.

  5. Thilo Joerger says:

    Thank you, Bruce Phinney, for having principles and acting on them.

    • S.A. Cunliffe says:

      Bruce worked on the co-op build side of things in town so he does know a thing or two about that type of housing… I hope he becomes a champion for another co-op project – he and I spoke about it years ago and we spoke about the skatepark project – now that there are options to build higher that might be a great option for a collective of people who can get the money together to buy land in or near town and create their version of affordable housing… Lafford should be thanked for paving the way for move types of development.

  6. Ralston says:

    Guess people should have shown more support for Gordon Beal the two times he tried to get a 3 story building on the rear of the property. People will complain but rarely show up to support.

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