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New Brunswick government holds off on committing to Rising Tide affordable housing initiative

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick silent on matching Moncton’s affordable housing fund' New Brunswick silent on matching Moncton’s affordable housing fund
WATCH: Moncton says it backs a plan to create over 100 affordable housing spaces in the city, but the plan will cost millions and depends on the participation of the province. New Brunswick is not saying whether it will match Moncton’s $6 million contribution. Tim Roszell has the story – Nov 3, 2020

The provincial government is not yet saying whether it will match funding from the City of Moncton for a planned affordable housing project.

On Monday, Moncton City Council endorsed a plan to contribute $6 million over three years to the Rising Tide Community Initiatives plan, which calls for the creation of 125 affordable housing spaces in Moncton along with support services for clients or tenants.

But the city money is contingent on a matching contribution from the New Brunswick government.

Read more: Moncton commits $6M to affordable housing entity, pending matching provincial contribution

Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch would not commit to the funding, but said he and other ministers had already discussed the proposal with Rising Tide, and other stakeholders, several times before the council vote.

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“And we’ve had various meetings amongst various departments to try and see if there’s a way forward,” Fitch said.

“So we’re doing our due diligence. It’s a big project, but it’s an important project. So we want to make sure that the outcomes that everyone are hoping for are achieved.”

Click to play video: 'People on waiting list to access affordable housing in New Brunswick continues to grow' People on waiting list to access affordable housing in New Brunswick continues to grow
People on waiting list to access affordable housing in New Brunswick continues to grow – Nov 14, 2019

The project has garnered widespread support throughout the community.

John Wishart, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Moncton, said council showed leadership in committing to help Moncton’s most vulnerable people.

“Businesses may feel more confident that they’ll be able to operate in a safe and secure manner downtown for both their employees and customers,” Wishart said Monday.

“And it also sends a very strong signal to investors, both here in town and outside, that Moncton is on top of its game in terms of this important social issue.”

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Some councillors expressed disappointment that Moncton in making a considerable investment in an area that falls under provincial responsibility, rather than municipal.

Read more: New Moncton non-profit seeks funding to provide affordable housing, fight homelessness

But Fitch communities and advocacy groups across Canada are contributing to affordable housing initiatives. He said council’s decision to offer financial support is not trend-setting.

“It’s sort of like the grass fire in your backyard with the wind blowing towards your house,” Fitch began. “You can sit there and say, ‘Well, I’ll wait for the fire department to come and put that fire out,’ or you can go and take the initiative and put the fire out yourself.”

Rising Tide co-founder Dale Hicks said he’s hoping to arrange more meetings with the government soon. He says the project needs a provincial commitment by Christmastime, or it will not proceed.

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