Courier editorial – Want more residents? Then allow for more housing

On page 6 of today’s (Tuesday, June 15) paper, you’ll find a story about a family who moved to St. Stephen from the Netherlands two-years-ago. They made the choice to start a new adventure in life, and chose our little corner of the world to do it. By the end of July this year, the family of three will be back in the Netherlands for a sole, but substantial reason; lack of somewhere to live.

The home they’ve been renting is being sold, and having not been able to secure financing to purchase the home themselves (for reason that make me shake my head at the Canadian banking and mortgage system), they began the search for a new place to live for themselves (Mum, Dad, and son) and the other member of the family, Luna, the family pooch.

They started looking in the region, and when nothing was sourced, they cast their net wider throughout the province; he’s a truck driver and they weren’t necessarily tied to St. Stephen.

The result? Back to the beginning of this tale where I told you they are moving back to the Netherlands.

This family, who have income, a history in the country, and a desire to make their lives here are having to leave due to a lack of what should be a readily available and fundamental resource; housing.

In particular, affordable rental housing.

Follow the St. Stephen and area rentals page and you’ll get a start look at the housing market in the area, or the lack thereof. It has become nigh on impossible for people to find affordable places to live in not only Charlotte County, but the province.

And yet Premier Blaine Higgs has gone on record saying there’s no real issue. I suspect the Gevers family would tell him otherwise. It’s doubly ironic as in one breath the premier talks about wanting to entice new residents to the province but makes no effort to improve the employment or housing situation in New Brunswick to do so.

People can’t come here, or as evidenced, can’t remain if they can’t find places to live or jobs to pay what are becoming exorbitant rents.

I’ve spoken with St. Stephen Mayor Al MacEachern, and he identified several properties in town that have interest from investors, and the town itself to purchase government owned property to create more housing in town, but the government has suspended tax sales for this year, citing COVID-19, and I don’t buy it.

There’s no reason tax sales can’t go ahead virtually, and if this government is truly invested in seeing the province grow and, god forbid, prosper, it’s one of the steps which must be taken.

This is a fairly simple problem with a fairly simple resolution; it’s time our government put their money where their mouths are.

Krisi Marples