South Shore Housing Action Coalition, a citizen group bringing much needed attention to the fact that The South Shore of Nova Scotia has a housing crisis going on. Full time rentals are very hard to come by and this makes it difficult for young families to move to Lunenburg County. Many homes are owned by people that use these houses as vacation homes for a few weeks of the year. Fine for municipal coffers, but not fine for the community. As you can see by the chart, we really, really need young families. The yellow line represents people between the ages of 35-64. People of working age. Following current trends this number will decrease to 398 residents in 20 years. The total population of the town of Lunenburg is projected to decrease to 1947 people. It is a similar scenario for the whole county.
I'm not posting this to be the voice of doom and gloom. I'm posting this because every decision made in our town needs to be made with this reality in mind. What steps can we take to reverse this trend? Are there policies that can be enacted to ensure that multi family homes are not converted into single family homes? I'm sure that somewhere in the world these issues have been addressed.
But mostly, we have to stop pretending that we can go on doing things the way that they have always been done. We have a very liberal land use bylaw for Home Based Businesses, but can it be improved to make it even better for people wanting to move here to set up home businesses? Mahone Bay just made it possible to use carriage houses as tourist homes. Why not Lunenburg?
Can we go on pretending that as our population declines that our property taxes and utility bills won't seriously increase? Are we pricing out young families and people that have been here for years? Is it responsible to think that Lunenburg county residents should be paying for 5 municipal units and a duplication of services? The whole county has a total population of 47,000 people and that number is going down.
Change will come whether we want it or not. The yellow line tells the story. But at this point we can make the change ourselves. We can guide it responsibly. In 20 years that will not be the case. But before you can fix a problem, you have to admit you have one.
You can find the full report from SSHAC by clicking on the April 28th minutes. It's really informative.