A vacant lot on Gottingen Street is an unusual place for a news conference, but for Megan Leslie, it helped illustrate a point.

The lot opposite the North Branch Library is supposed to hold an affordable condo development. But non-profit landowner Creighton-Gerrish hasn’t been able to follow through on its plans.

“This land has been owned for years, and we’re standing on it and there’s no housing because we actually need the money to build that housing,” said Leslie, the Halifax NDP MP.


At the conference yesterday, Leslie called on the Conservatives to include a “massive” investment in affordable housing in their Jan. 27 budget.

She brought together spokespeople from the development, construction and environmental communities to make her case for the far-reaching benefits of affordable housing.

“If we had a budget released on the 27th that aggressively invested money in building affordable housing, we would create jobs in the construction industry. That would be great for our economy,” said Leslie.

“But in addition to creating jobs, it would also help alleviate poverty.”

Leslie said building affordable homes serves the double benefit of boosting the economy and the GDP, while allowing us to reduce our carbon footprint with greener buildings.

Peter Greer of the carpenter’s union argued that investing in infrastructure would give a much-needed boost of activity to the trades sector.

“We don’t want the construction industry to fall into disrepair like it was in the early 1990s because, as you know, the skill shortages that we have now in many ways relate to the fact the construction industry collapsed,” said Greer.

“Nobody was trained. Nobody wanted to take an apprenticeship in the trades. As a result, we have critical shortages.”

Leslie said affordable housing would be a main priority of a Liberal-NDP coalition government, and two NDP members will be consulting with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty this week.

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