Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, driven largely by oil and gas, mining, and energy projects in the provincial hinterland and in other parts of Canada, particularly Alberta. Communities across the province have benefited from this growth, but have also been faced with associated challenges. These include changes in communities linked to increases in mobile workers (also known as employment-related geographical mobility or E-RGM) and rising wages. One of the sectors that has been most impacted is housing. Housing is a cross-cutting theme arising in ongoing research about the consequences of and for the mobile workforce in our province. Among the many related pressures in the housing market include:
- Increasing housing prices and assessment values, with decreased housing affordability;
- Booming residential construction and related planning pressures;
- A rise in “informal housing” (e.g. room rentals, use of trailers, recreational properties);
- Changing expectations and tensions associated with new forms of development; and
- Possible rapid devaluation.
Recently, the economic downturn and the low price of crude oil have affected employment opportunities for Newfoundlanders working here and ‘out West’. Little is known, however, about the current and potential impacts on the housing market. The purpose of this public forum (held in St. John’s on April 26, 2016) was to encourage discussion on housing issues related to the province’s mobile workforce, to establish a portrait of ongoing projects and potential future research, and to gather input on research that is already underway in NL. Implications for the housing industry and communities that plan for housing developments and related services were explored, with the aim of identifying policies and actions with potential to address issues raised. The forum, a project of the On the Move in partnership with Municipalities NL, Canadian Home Builders’ Association NL, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and The Harris Centre, brought together housing researchers, industry representatives, policy makers and community partners and included presentations, panel and group discussions and networking opportunities. To view the full agenda, click here.
The forum featured presentations from the following speakers:
- Chris Janes, Senior Market Analyst NL, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (view slides)
- Jim Burton, Fellow of the Real Estate Institute, ReMax (view slides)
- Sinikka Okkola, M.A. Candidate, Memorial University (view slides)
- Maria Callahan, Affordable Housing & Development Facilitator, City of St. John’s (view slides)
- Victoria Belbin, CEO, Canadian Home Builders’ Association NL (view slides)
- Karen Oldford, President, Municipalities NL (view slides)
- Damon Clarke, Economic Development Officer, Town of Deer Lake (view slides)
- Kelly Vodden and Sandrine Jean, NL Field Component Researchers, On the Move Partnership (view slides)
A final report is currently in preparation and will be made available here as soon as it is complete, so be sure to keep checking back!