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Project Lunenburg opens the door to affordable housing discussion

Roughly a third of Lunenburg’s housing stock was constructed before 1900.
Roughly a third of Lunenburg’s housing stock was constructed before 1900. - Josh Healey

'It just doesn't exist'

LUNENBURG, N.S. —

Project Lunenburg — the town’s initiative to create a new comprehensive municipal plan - recently held a public workshop on housing.

And the workshop was packed, with over 150 people cramming their way into the Lunenburg Fire Hall to voice their experiences — and opinions — on one of the town’s most polarizing issues.

Steffen Kaeubler, the project manager for the UPLAND consulting team, was impressed by the turnout but not surprised.

“Housing affordability has come out in our research as a topic,” he said.

In fact, as per a March 14 update to the Project Lunenburg website, many locals are concerned over current and future housing options.

“There is an increasing worry about the capacity of the town to be a viable place to live for young people, low-income households and seniors,” according to the update.

Kaeubler said some of these concerns were voiced during the workshop; senior living, assisted living and cohousing, he noted, were all discussed.

Voicing opinions

Participants at Project Lunenburg’s housing workshop were encouraged to sit with strangers and discuss their experiences and opinions on various housing topics. Over 150 people attended the event on April 24. - Josh Healey
Participants at Project Lunenburg’s housing workshop were encouraged to sit with strangers and discuss their experiences and opinions on various housing topics. Over 150 people attended the event on April 24. - Josh Healey

The workshop, like the entirety of Project Lunenburg, was set up in a way for residents to voice their opinions.

Participants were seated at several tables and encouraged to speak to strangers on housing subjects.

Will Brooks, who has lived in town for 10 years, and Gale Fullerton, a new resident, both had similar understandings of the housing stock afterward.

“Both of us have been talking about the same thing, which is the recognition that there’s a huge need for affordable, adequate housing for single people, people who are aging, for families with young children,” said Brooks.

“It just doesn’t exist.”

Fullerton added she was surprised to find how few choices there were for rental accommodations.

“I had exactly two units to choose from. That was it,” she said.

Another participant, Rob Murray, has lived in Lunenburg for over 40 years and was attending to determine if the town would address senior housing.

The town’s direction, he said, would determine if he stayed or moved to another community, given his mobility issues.

“I appreciate being asked. And that’s what they’re doing,” said Murray.

Moving forward

Although the workshop is done, the project is expected to revisit housing over the next several months.

Kaeubler said there will be pop up engagement sessions throughout July and August to further gauge public opinion before formulating a plan.

And through their research, Project Lunenburg has already gathered a few observations.

“One of the big, quality aspects of Lunenburg is that it's not a museum. It’s a living town, it has a working waterfront,” said Kaeubler.

“Having permanent residents working and breathing in Lunenburg is very important.”

He added the project still had to speak to several key stakeholders but the most important thing was that the public continued to engage: the town is listening.

For more information on Project Lunenburg or to share their experiences, people can visit https://www.projectlunenburg.ca/participate to complete the housing survey.

joshua.rj.healey@gmail.com

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