Nackawic-Millville unveils future housing plan

by | Feb 19, 2024

Open house sponsored by rural community and Housing Hub N.B. draws significant interest

With the province and nation facing a severe housing shortage, the rural community of Nackawic-Millville has stepped up as a leader ready to meet the challenge.

On Monday, Feb. 12, Nackawic-Millville and the recently formed Housing Hub N.B. co-hosted a four-hour open house showcasing the community’s housing efforts and seeking feedback from its residents.

The ambitious development of a 47-acre parcel of town-owned land behind the Nackawic High and Middle schools was the event’s focus at the Nackawic Lions Club.

Nackawic-Millville Mayor Tim Fox, Deputy Mayor Greg MacFarlane, council members, CAO Kathryn Clark, York North MLA Richard Ames and Housing Hub N.B. Chief Development Officer Mylene Vincent and her staff helped guide the large crowd through the community’s detailed housing plans.

“We’re very pleased to see the turnout,” said Fox as he met and talked with the many residents who took advantage of the open house.

A large crowd turned out for the open house at the Nackawic Lions Club on Feb. 12. (Jim Dumville photo) Nackawic Housing Example Town House Displays included artist concept drawing of proposed townhouses. (Jim Dumville photo)

Vincent described Housing Hub N.B. as a non-profit organization formed last year by the province to help New Brunswick communities outside the province’s big-three cities develop housing plans.

“Nackawic is the first community we started working with,” she said, adding the Feb. 12 event was the first open house of its type anywhere in the province.

Vincent explained Nackawic launched its housing plan well before the creation of Housing Hub N.B.

“They’re a step ahead of most other communities in the province,” she said.

Vincent explained that turning housing plans into reality requires input from numerous levels, including three levels of government, consultants, contractors, several business sectors and eventual users.

“We help bring it together,” she said.

MacFarlane, a member of Nackawic council before the amalgamation into Nackawic-Millville, said the open house was the latest step in five years of work.

He explained the housing initiative as one part of the municipality’s development, which began with the establishment of Destination Nackawic Economic Development Corporation.

MacFarlane explained Destination Nackawic pursues several avenues of economic development in Nackawic-Millville, including the Marina project and housing.

The deputy mayor said the Destination Nackawic board and members quickly identified housing as a pivotal building block to the long-term growth of the community.

He explained entrepreneurs consider access to housing a key factor when establishing a business in a community. At the same time, MacFarlane added, a growing population provides an ever-increasing market for new and established companies.

He said the town set out several years ago to find available land to pursue housing development. It quickly identified the nearly 50 acres of town-owned land with access from Landegger Drive and Route 105.

An artist concept drawing shows a proposed apartment complex in the proposed Nackawic-Millville Development. (Jim Dumville photo)

MacFarlane said the town partnered with Gemtec, a consulting and planning firm with a record of residential developments, to lay out a plan.

With a legitimate plan already in place, MacFarlane said the town could immediately take advantage of the support Housing Hub NB could offer.

He said that with both the federal and provincial governments developing programs and funding options to address the severe housing shortages across the country, Housing Hub NB can help the municipality access the different pots of money.

MacFarlane said Nackawic-Millville works with both levels of government, including their Carleton-York MLA, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Richard Ames and Jill Green, Minister Responsible for the N.B. Housing Corporation.

Ames, who attended the open house, liked what he saw.

“It’s good to see the amount of people out,” he said.

Ames praised the effort of the Nackawic-Millville council to address the needs of the municipality and housing, which he described as a “serious problem” in general.

He said meeting housing challenges requires all levels of government and the private sector working together.

Vincent, members of her team and town representatives explained the plans for the 220-unit development in detail, using artist concept drawings on display throughout the hall.

Visitors viewed several displays showing site plans and buildings with the help of experts. (Jim Dumville photo)

She explained the proposed development includes plans to meet all housing needs. She said that includes apartment complexes, single-family dwellings, a seniors development, townhouses and garden suites.

Vincent said the price ranges would span from affordable housing to upper-scale homes and apartments.

Like many showcasing the plans, she noted the senior-focused options address an ongoing challenge in Nackawic-Millville. She said many seniors would like to downscale from their current homes but don’t want to leave Nackawic-Millville.

The availability of down-scale options in their hometown means their current homes become available to others in the town’s housing market.

CAO Clark said the open house also encouraged feedback from residents. A suggestion box and notepads are available for visitors to provide feedback. She added the rural community may offer a survey to encourage further input from residents.

A suggestion box sits ready to gather feedback from residents. (Jim Dumville photo)

Vincent explained a development the size of the one proposed by Nackawic-Millville requires intense planning, including the development of water and sewer, streets, parks and other amenities. She said part of Housing Hub’s role is to help alleviate problems.

With a solid head start, MacFarlane hopes to fast-track the development. He would like to see shovels in the ground by no later than 2025 and building construction by at least 2026.

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