Fredericton hopes bonus incentives attract affordable housing development

·2 min read
Fredericton is hoping incentives can coax more developers into including affordable housing units in their projects. (City of Fredericton - image credit)
Fredericton is hoping incentives can coax more developers into including affordable housing units in their projects. (City of Fredericton - image credit)

The City of Fredericton is hoping "bonus incentives" can help make affordable housing more attractive to developers.

Currently under the city's zoning bylaw, developers can get more units in their build if some of those units qualify as affordable under the province's Affordable Housing Program.

But, Marcello Battilana, the manager of community planning at the City of Fredericton, says because the vacancy rate is so low -- less than two per cent -- there's little need for developers to include affordable housing in new builds.

"What's happening right now is developers don't need the affordable housing program at all."

Under provincial legislation, the city doesn't have the power to force developers to include affordable housing, so it's hoping density bonus incentives, or the ability to build more total units, will help make affordable units more attractive.

"It may entice them to say, 'You know what, I'll get a little bit more density than I thought, and so let's be part of the program'," said Battilana.

There are other types of bonus incentives - in the past, developers have gotten an extra storey on a build in exchange for public art.

"This incentive is relatively new," said Coun. Kate Rogers, chair of the city's affordable housing committee.

And she said it's a tool the city should be using more.

"That's one of the things that (the affordable housing committee is) really encouraging staff, is that there be more and more promotion of these tools to developers and working with developers to help them come up with ways that they can be creative in their development to incorporate affordable housing."

Proposed development on George Street in Fredericton will include two affordable housing units..
Proposed development on George Street in Fredericton will include two affordable housing units..(City of Fredericton council agenda)

A new building proposal on George Street is making use of it, the developer Marty Mockler is allowed an extra unit by including two affordable units, giving the building a total of eight units in the new build.

"Basically, we just want to see developers be able to take advantage of additional tools that the municipality can bring to bear to provide more affordable housing options for the community overall," said Battilana.

Battilana says the city is hoping to add to the bonus incentives under the zoning bylaw and that those plans will be made public at the next Planning Advisory Committee on March 17.