Queens mayor looking to the province for answers on housing announcement

A woman stands in front of a pick up truck
Region of Queens mayor Darlene Norman. Photo by Ed Halverson
Ed Halverson - QCCR/CJQC - LiverpoolNS | 25-10-2021

The mayor of Region of Queens is cautiously optimistic about the province’s plans to tackle the housing crisis.

Darlene Norman says there are many issues to address, and the devil is in the details.

“Well, what’s good in it is they’re actually taking action. How good that action will be, who knows?” said Norman.

Last week, Premier Tim Houston and Municipal Affairs Minister John Lohr announced changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, new powers for municipalities and a package of supports aimed at creating more available housing.

The province is spending $35 million to support 1,100 new affordable housing units across Nova Scotia and immediately providing 425 new rent supplements.

Norman isn’t confident many of those new spaces will be made available outside Halifax.

“I guess it’s a step, but they really need to look; we need more senior housing, definitely, [there’s] a long-term waitlist for those,” said Norman. “We need more low-income housing through community services, we need more of those, and we just need more long-term affordable housing in rural Nova Scotia.”

Norman is also concerned about government’s decision to extend the rent cap until the end of 2023.

During the pandemic, the previous liberal government capped annual rent increases at two percent per year.

Norman understands the need to keep people in their homes but worries extending the cap another two years will put landlords in a difficult spot.

“I’m uncertain if I would want to be the owner of rental properties, especially rental properties of places that might include fuel or other things,” said Norman. “When you look at the escalation of, just a thing of paint or a new door or a new window. I think what this will do is highly decrease the apartment owner’s willingness to do any repairs whatsoever.”

Norman says she hates the thought that anyone is homeless in the Region and thinks it’s time the municipality formed partnerships to tackle the issue head-on.

“So what do we do?” asked Norman. “Do we all bound together as municipalities down here on the South Shore and sit and think, what are we going to do and take our actions to the province? Do we need to start coming up with our solutions down here? I think maybe we do.”

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