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Housing summit aims to improve conditions in New Brunswick

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The province of New Brunswick is vowing to improve housing for residents.

“Everything is on the table right now, until it’s not on the table anymore,” says Housing Minister Jill Green. “We don’t want to leave any stone unturned on this. One thing is not going to fix the problem that we have.”

Over 160 stakeholders ranging from community groups and non-profit organizations to homeowners and students met for the second phase of discussions following an initial meeting in February. The goal is to tackle the problems and develop solutions to improve housing in the province.

“What we need to look at is a sense of community,” says Green. “And build that collaboration so we can have community.”

Some say the answer is much simpler.

“Affordable housing starts with rent control,” says chair of N.B. ACORN Nichola Taylor. “Without rent control, you will not have affordable housing no matter what the intention is.”

Taylor says a rent cap would do just that. It’s something Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have already implemented.

“All across Canada, we are seeing rent caps in different provinces as well,” iterates Taylor. “It’s very interesting that it is in the Maritimes because that shows it can be done here and it should be done here.”

Green wouldn’t confirm one way or the other if a rent cap may be implemented as part of the strategy, but did note there is far more to the puzzle.

“Rent cap is one tiny piece of the housing spectrum, a very small piece,” says Green. “We’re looking at very big and bold and innovative solutions.”

Smaller meetings between various parties will continue right up until the final strategy plan is released. Until that day, nerves will be high.

“It’s a little bit terrifying to think about all the work that has to happen over the next six weeks to get this strategy in place,” according to Green. “Are we going to get it 100 per cent right in six weeks or eight weeks time? No.”

The new housing strategy is set to be released in June. The plan will act as a starting point, with the government vowing to update the strategy every two years to adapt to the province’s housing needs.

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