Fredericton welcomes the proposal to increase density through a request for rezoning on the north side
A proposed rezoning of vacant lots on Fredericton’s north side is being hailed by city planners as a desired step towards the goal of creating more high-density housing, bringing more residents closer to amenities such as shops and schools.
Councilors on Monday night approved the first and second readings of a motion that would see an 11.5-acre site on Cuffman Street rezoned to allow for the creation of up to 700 housing units through the construction of multi-family and townhouses.
Proponent Peter DeMerchant told councilors he only tentatively plans to repurpose the land before selling lots to developers who would be able to build “whatever they think is marketable”.
Marcelo Battilana, planner at the City of Fredericton, said after the meeting the motion reflects the way the city wanted the area to be developed.
“Overall, the project really reflects the original planning that went into this area many years ago,” he said.
“Now you see how this plan is realized.”
The New Brunswick government announced in November 2021 that a new 5th grade English-language kindergarten would be built on Cuffman Street, with space for approximately 500 students.
The plan aims in part to ease enrollment pressure at the Gibson-Neill Memorial School, which, after exceeding capacity in recent years, has had to install modular classrooms.
The new school would place it in the same neighborhood as Willie O’Ree Place, Leo Hayes High School and École Les Éclaireurs.
“The province has been very clear, as has the planning department, to ensure that this is more of a city school,” Battilana said.
“That’s why we wanted to have a significant density in the immediate vicinity, so that the children have the opportunity to walk to school again.”
The motion has yet to go to Council members for a third and final reading at a later meeting.
If passed, Battilana said another application would have to be made to create a subdivision on the property before buildings can be built.
“The applicant has to come back to subdivide the property, which requires a further process which, as one of the council members alluded, gives the public a chance to look at what is being submitted in terms of an application for subdivision. “
Hoping for ownership options
Brett Gibbons, who lives in the area of proposed rezoning, spoke to councilors on Monday night about concerns the development was limited in what it offers to those looking to own a family home in the city.
“I guess my biggest concern is for young people and their future prospects of becoming homeowners in the City of Fredericton,” said Gibbons, adding that he is currently renting.
“A strong focus on high-density multi-family homes and apartments in Fredericton could cool the rental market, but I don’t see any positive impact on the homebuyer market and allow young people to buy a home in the future here in Fredericton.”
DeMerchant said whether any units would be owned would be left to the developer, who eventually takes over the land after the preliminary rezoning.