Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston has hit back at Halifax city councilors, who recently criticized the province for a lack of affordable housing and a growing number of tent encampments.
At a news conference after announcing his cabinet shuffle Thursday, Houston told reporters that municipalities should stop “pointing fingers” and instead “roll up their sleeves” and get to work on this issue.
Halifax Regional Municipality councilors took aim at the province Tuesday during debate on updating the homelessness strategy.
Councilors were asked to consider expanding designated tent encampments to Halifax Common – a recommendation they ultimately voted against.
During the meeting, councilors accused the province of not doing its job on the housing file and of letting the municipality find band-aid solutions.
Affordable housing stock is a provincial responsibility.
Advice. Waye Mason, who represents Halifax South Downtown, said the province hasn’t built enough housing since it took on the role in the 1990s.
“The government seems to think the problem will resolve itself. It won’t,” he said.
Advice. Tony Mancini accused the province of not focusing on the crisis.
“How do you sleep at night, Prime?” ” He asked.
Others suggested the municipality was facing a humanitarian crisis.
“Maybe the Red Cross intervention will embarra*s the province and force it to do its damn job,” the councilor said. Lisa Blackburn.
“Roll up your sleeves and get to work”
When asked on Thursday to respond to criticism from HRM advisers, the prime minister replied: “It’s everyone’s problem” and that all levels of government had a role to play.
“Pointing fingers and blaming someone else, I mean, that’s on other people to do. But what I would say is it would be appropriate for the board to also take a little look in the mirror,” Houston said.
“This is a problem that has been getting worse for over 10 years now. We have been here for two years. We tried to put structures in place to work with them.
Houston added that he agreed with Prime Minister and federal housing minister Sean Fraser, who this week encouraged municipalities to “step up” their housing plans.
“We have many examples of councils dragging their feet on approvals that could allow housing to be built,” Houston continued.
He then listed a number of fees, including permits and sewage treatment fees, which he called “hidden taxes” that the council had “raised” “through the roof.”
“We all need to work together on this. And the federal government has made that clear as well,” he said.
” We are here to help you. But, you know, look, stamp your foot and point to someone else? No. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Houston said his government planned to release its delayed housing strategy this fall, but had to go back and make some changes to the strategy “due to the failures of some municipalities.”
In addition to a cabinet reshuffle, Houston announced the creation of a team of deputy directors to “tackle the province’s most pressing challenges,” including housing.
Members of the executive a*sistant team are Kelliann Dean, Paul LaFleche, Tracey Taweel and Dana MacKenzie.
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