Kickstarting growth

Town of CBS looking for ways to boost housing starts

By Chris Lewis | Vol. 32 No. 7 (May 1 2019)

The Town of CBS is working with developers to boost interest in the community in the hopes of spurring development, says at-large councillor Rex Hillier.

Representatives from the town recently met with some local developers, Hiller told his colleagues at the last public council meeting, held April 16. It was a good opportunity, he noted, to highlight areas the Town can improve on to combat a decrease in housing starts.

“It was at that meeting that we had an opportunity to talk to (the developers), and let them know that our focus remains on becoming the community of choice for families wanting to establish long-term roots in the province, and we’d like to bring in as many as we can,” Hillier added.

Citing recent statistics, Hillier said housing starts in Conception Bay South are not faring as badly as in St. John’s, but it’s still something the Town should be aware of and work to remedy.

“In the greater St. John’s area, total housing starts are down more than 70 per cent since 2012, and while we’re not immune to that, we’re faring far better than most,” Hiller said. “In fact, our starts are down less than 50 per cent. In other words, development is still occurring, and new homes are still being built. However, we have slowed significantly, and council has developed a plan to help guide us through this slowing period.”

Hillier said the plan is composed of three elements; competitive taxation, development of key infrastructure, and a renewed focus on economic development.

The competitive taxation portion of the plan begins within the Town’s budget, he said, pointing out the Town has a competitive taxation rate and there were no fee increases in this year’s budget, despite a decrease in spending of approximately $560,000.

“We know, from out of our budget, we’re putting a million dollars to upgrade our streets and sidewalk infrastructure,” he added. “Construction is ongoing now on Legion Road, and Tilley’s Road South, as well as some others will see improvements as time goes on… We’re into funding requests from Infrastructure Canada with a total of $24 million for further infrastructure within our town.”

Hillier said part of that infrastructure work includes water and sewer projects, noting that a lot of the town’s current water and sewer infrastructure is around 40-years-old. Seal Cove, Topsail, and Foxtrap are also on the radar for this work.

As for the town’s renewed focus on economic development, Hillier said a new commercial featured on local television stations is serving to help brand the community to a wider audience. Ultimately, the hope is that will bring more residents to the area.

Knowing that many consumers are looking for smaller, multi-unit homes, Hillier said, the Town is looking to work with developers to see more of those units pop up in the future.

“We’re also turning our attention back to the Gateway (retail park on Legion Road) to increase retail presence in the town, Hillier said. “In 2018, we had 10,000 square feet of commercial space up there. Two food and beverage establishments opened. But we know it’s tough and even in the retail sector, money is short. So, we’re pushing forward with that.”

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