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New Brunswick cities looking to increase density through record-breaking construction

Click to play video: 'Residential construction in N.B. booming as province’s largest cities grow' Residential construction in N.B. booming as province’s largest cities grow
WATCH: New census data shows that New Brunswick’s three largest cities are growing, especially their downtown cores. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, the record-breaking residential construction across the province has those cities concerned about preventing too much urban sprawl – Feb 11, 2022

Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John all showed significant growth in the latest census result. Moncton led the charge by growing by 8.9 per cent, Fredericton grew by 5.8 per cent, and Saint John showed growth for the first time in five years, with a growth of 3.5 per cent.

With residential housing construction on the rise as the country grapples with the housing crisis, the Nature Conservancy of Canada warns urban expansion can come with growing pains.

In an interview on Thursday, their national media relations director, Andrew Holland, said, “The big for key for municipalities is to have good land use planning planning practices so that they’re not losing some of our natural defenses such as our forests and wetlands.

“They can be very beneficial for urban wildlife and protecting our communities against climate change and the heavy rainfalls and flooding and the significant weather events that we tend to get more and more.”

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Read more: Feds partner with N.B. government to increase low-income housing benefit

The City of Moncton has hired consultants to develop an urban growth strategy, “that will address where and how residential and employment growth should occur in Moncton over the next 25 years,” according to Andrew Smith, Moncton’s long-range policy planning manager.

On Thursday, he said the public will be asked for feedback on it, and it will be presented to council toward the end of 2022.

Currently, Moncton is seeking to attract more residents to the downtown core.

“Right now the current planned direction is to increase residential units in the downtown by 80 to 100 units per year,” Smith said.

After Halifax, Fredericton has the largest downtown in the Atlantic provinces.

“Fredericton has been bucking the provincial trend for more than a decade, ” Ken Forrest, Fredericton’s director of planning and development, said in a statement on Thursday.

“Our growth has been more urban and is more infill-oriented by design. Our city planning has pointed us there for a long time and the City’s new municipal plan further emphasizes that approach.”

Read more: Developers can’t build fast enough to meet demand to move to Shediac, N.B.

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In Saint John, Mayor Donna Reardon said the focus is on vertical construction on the peninsula, as well as a focus on mixed residential zoning, where single-family homes, multi-unit buildings and commercial spaces would coexist in the same neighbourhoods.

She said that mixed zoning was causing mixed feelings in some residents.

“Even with these rezoning public hearings that come to council they can sometimes be very emotional,” she said about residents concerned with changes to their neighbourhoods.

“What it would do is it would take some of that decision-making out of council’s hands and it would be mandated that you need to increase your density for housing needs of course. It’s pretty hard to say no when you know the need for housing.”

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