St. Mary’s attracting ‘incredible’ housing development interest, CAO says

·2 min read

ST MARY’S – Riding high on the crest of a real estate boom, The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s is receiving what one senior official here is calling “incredible interest” from land developers looking to build new housing in the area.

“What we’re trying to do right now is find out what is tangible for the very near future and how we can get that action going,” Chief Administrative Officer David Hutten told The Journal in an interview.

“The current demand and the amount of title and deed transfers that have happened over the past couple of years for the east coast isn’t going away. I think it’s only going to increase with [high-quality] lifestyle and [low] cost of living.”

Hutten was not specific about the level of development interest, or the sources of it, but he said: “One of our key goals in the very near future is to implement actual strategies and incentives, ways that we can cooperate with developers… We’re poising ourselves for partnership with any investors that are interested in developing the area.”

In an email, Economic Development Officer Marissa Jordan said: “We are focusing on policies and regulations that are clear and straightforward, in order to attract families, individuals, business entrepreneurs, or anyone looking to settle or relocate to the area, as well as potential land developers.”

She noted that the municipality is working on the final review of a new municipal planning strategy (MPS) and land use by-law (LUB) – the first in 15 years.

“These two pieces are the fundamental elements for land use planning.”

Added Hutten: “We want to make sure that this land use by-law is set to work very, very seamlessly with interested developers.”

St. Mary’s has been experiencing its version of a real estate boom since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the most recent figures from the municipality’s finance department, deed transfer tax revenues were $64,088 during the first quarter of the fiscal year, ending June 30, 2021, compared with $14,161 during the comparable period in 2019-20.

During that time, the municipality registered 17 building permits, with an assessed value of $1.6 million, compared with 10 worth $718,000 in the period two years ago. The district is now outpacing its performance last year, when it set a record for annual transfer tax revenues ($131,589).

Said Hutten, who moved from Hartland N.B., this summer to assume the CAO’s job: “People are still getting multiple offers [for their houses] here. Things typically slow down at this time of year, but it’s been full steam ahead.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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