New Brunswick looking for funding partners to salvage City Motel project

Click to play video: 'City decides not to fund affordable housing project in Fredericton' City decides not to fund affordable housing project in Fredericton
WATCH: An affordable housing project in Fredericton is on life support, following city council’s decision not to give $900,000 in funding. Silas Brown reports – Mar 23, 2021

Social development minister Bruce Fitch says the department is looking for additional funding partners to save the City Motel affordable housing project.

The project is on life support following Fredericton city council’s decision not to come on board with $900,000 in funding.

“If we have another funding partner or another way to finance, or if there’s other ways we can salvage the project, I think it addresses a number of needs in the complex issue of homelessness in the city of Fredericton,” Fitch told reporters on Tuesday.

The project, led by the John Howard Society, would see the City Motel on Regent Street purchased and converted into 20 affordable housing units and 12 peer supported units. The emergency out of the cold shelter on Brunswick Street would also be relocated to the bottom floor.

“You’re talking about the largest affordable housing project to be undertaken in Fredericton in decades,” project coordinator Jason LeJeune told Global News on Sunday.

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Read more: Proposal to turn Fredericton motel into affordable housing still short $1.45M

City Motel sits on the edge of Green leader David Coon’s riding of Fredericton South. Coon called on the government to step up with the remainder of the funding on the floor of the legislature Tuesday.

“I’m asking that the premier ensure that $900,000 is found somewhere in the province’s $10.6 billion budget to make sure the difference between this life altering project going ahead and falling apart is achieved,” Coon said.

The province has already chipped in some funding, announcing a $1.4 million contribution on Friday. The project has been impeded by other funding issues as well. The group’s federal funding application through the Rapid Housing Initiative of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) was also recently denied.

The total price tag for the project is $4.1M, LeJeune says, and the group has already raised $1.25M through the Fredericton Housing First Fund, the Human Development Council and the Regional Development Corporation.

But if full funding for the project is not secured by March 31, some partners will walk away. Fitch wouldn’t say if the province would step in at the 11th hour if additional funds couldn’t be found elsewhere.

“I want the staff to do their work, come back with some alternatives and we’ll make a decision from there,” he said.

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