Invest in Cape Breton: How To Build More Housing in Cape BretonMarch 5, 2024

Produced by Michelle Samson, Storied Places Media

Canada’s housing crisis is dominating the news, but we rarely hear about the work happening behind the scenes to fix it. There are housing advocates, developers, and politicians right here in Unama’ki – Cape Breton who are making tangible progress towards solutions. 

In the fourth episode of Invest in Cape Breton, we cover the current state of Cape Breton’s housing market, what two developers are doing to address the crisis, and what they think local governments and stakeholders can do to facilitate more housing development.

Our guests are:

  • Roger Boutilier, CEO, Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR)
  • Doug Doucet, CEO, Doucet Developments
  • Darla Gaudette, Business Development, Doucet Developments group of companies
  • Bobby Dubeau, President, By the Bay Properties
  • Mario Vetro, Co-Founder, By the Bay Properties

This episode is sponsored by the Construction Association of Nova Scotia (CANS) and Doucet Developments.

Listen now, or read on for a few highlights.

Population Growth and Lack of Inventory Are Driving the Local Housing Crisis

Unama’ki-Cape Breton saw a population boom during the pandemic that hasn’t let up. There are many upsides to growth, but the island doesn’t have enough housing to support it yet. As a result, availability is low and prices have gone up.

Roger Boutilier from the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR) says the way out of the problem is to build more, especially in the categories of social housing, senior housing, starter homes, and density development (i.e. row houses and apartment buildings). The good news is that Nova Scotia has the most new development in the country. The situation should improve in the next few years as those projects come to market and prices and interest rates stabilize.

New Housing Developments Are Coming Soon

Doucet Developments is deep in the design phase for new residential and commercial development coming to the Sydney waterfront. The first phase of Edgewater is expected to deliver 166 luxury apartment rentals, office space, community amenities, and 400 parking spaces. The company is also hoping to build residential communities behind the Ben’s Bread facility on George Street, and is exploring opportunities on Charlotte Street as well.

By the Bay Properties is new to the region but is already providing housing. They have 40 affordably-priced mini homes on the way and hope to deliver 80 units by the end of 2024. In the near future, they’re focusing on government programs to provide affordable housing (join the waitlist) and getting permits to build multi-unit buildings.

Governments Are Doing a Good Job Addressing the Crisis, but Can Still Do More

All of the guests offered kudos to local, provincial, and federal governments for making the housing crisis a top priority.

As for what else they can do to spur housing development, Vancouver-based By the Bay Properties would like to see the out-of-province property tax cancelled. Doucet Developments would like to see incentives like bonuses, tax breaks, and a streamlined permit process. NSAR would like to see governments and developers working together to build more social, senior, and higher density housing.

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