Town moving forward with housing survey

PORT HAWKESBURY: Town council will soon be circulating a housing survey.

During the regular monthly meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council on Jan. 5, Chief Administrative Officer Terry Doyle said a decision is required on when to send out a survey about housing priorities in the town.

Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton explained the survey will determine the number of people looking to locate in the town, and specifically what type of housing the want, as well as other statistics about prospective residents such as age, and whether they have families.

“With permission we can share their information with developers who can let them know when new housing opportunities arise,” she told The Reporter. “This will give developers important information including a potential list of people who are actively seeking housing. (This) will take some of the risk out of investing in multi-unit housing in town.”

The mayor asked that since the town’s housing committee has not been established, council can decide to postpone the survey until it is up and running.

“The advantage would be that we would be able to get maybe some better feedback,” she said. “The disadvantage would be that it would tie it up a bit.”

Town councillor Mark MacIver suggested the survey be delayed.

“I don’t mind putting it off until we get the committee so they can go through it,” MacIver told council.

Town councillor Jason Aucoin said the questions posed in the survey are the same asked in the past by developers, and the survey needs to go out sooner rather than later because government funding will be available in February and March.

“I went over this survey a few times now seeing if I could anything I thought was missing or wasn’t necessarily needed in the survey,” he said. “I’m okay with the survey going out the way it is.”

In response to a question from deputy warden Blaine MacQuarrie about how the survey will be sent out and the timelines for feedback, the mayor said the schedule is “quite flexible.” She said the Cape Breton Partnership will share the survey on SurveyMonkey, and the town can share it on social media and their website. She said the town can also provide paper surveys.

“My suggestion would be that we have this survey active for several months,” she responded. “We can continue to update that date and have relevant data as needed.”

In response to a question from the deputy mayor about how much experience the Cape Breton Partnership has in doing similar surveys, Chisholm-Beaton explained that they conducted successful surveys in Inverness and Victoria counties.

MacQuarrie said he supports sending the survey out as soon as possible.

“We’ve had the opportunity to give feedback on this survey and I’m comfortable with the questions that are there,” the deputy mayor stated.

Chisholm-Beaton said the town can update and put out additional surveys over the next couple of years, in addition to taking the temperature of the housing committee.

In response to a question from MacIver about the housing committee, the mayor said the committee is currently made up of councillors, until the new committee is struck.

Council approved a motion to proceed with the survey.