Thirty Haligo­ni­ans un­der 30 team­ing up to ‘bring some new ideas’ to the hous­ing con­ver­sa­tion in the city

StarMetro Halifax - - FRONT PAGE - ZANE WOOD­FORD

Over the next few months, a group of 30 Haligo­ni­ans un­der the age of 30 is go­ing to tackle one of the city’s most press­ing is­sues.

The Fu­ture City Builders pro­gram is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Ever­green, a non-profit en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion, and Youth­ful­ci­ties, the in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion that puts to­gether the an­nual Youth­ful­ci­ties in­dex.

Hal­i­fax is ranked 11th out of 13 Cana­dian cities in the 2018 in­dex and that caught the eye of 22year-old Saint Mary’s Uni­ver­sity stu­dent Al­fred Burges­son.

Burges­son ended up tak­ing part in a panel dis­cus­sion about the in­dex, and what mat­ters to young peo­ple in Hal­i­fax, this sum­mer.

“We sort of just broke down the in­dex and then talked about the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties that Hal­i­fax was fac­ing,” Burges­son said.

Later, when Youth­ful­ci­ties asked for ap­pli­ca­tions for Fu­ture City Builders co-leads, he ap­plied. Burges­son was cho­sen, along with co-lead Joyce Liu, and went to Toronto for a week of work­shops and the Fu­ture Cities Sum­mit. There, the pair got to know their coun­ter­parts from across the coun­try.

In the next year, the Fu­ture City Builders pro­gram is tak­ing place in Hal­i­fax, Toronto, Hamil­ton, Cal­gary and Van­cou­ver.

Teams of 30 young peo­ple in each city will pick one of five build­ing top­ics to focus on: ur­ban food, wa­ter, trans­porta­tion, hous­ing and waste sys­tems.

In Hal­i­fax, the focus will be on hous­ing.

“We feel like hous­ing right now is sort of gain­ing some mo­men­tum, not only in the de­vel­op­ments

that are hap­pen­ing, but also in dis­cus­sions around af­ford­abil­ity and our com­mu­ni­ties,” Burges­son said.

“Hous­ing sort of gives us an op­por­tu­nity to look at the com­mu­nity as a whole.”

It is a cru­cial time for hous­ing in Hal­i­fax. Just last week, the Cana­dian Mort­gage and Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (CMHC) re­leased its an­nual Oc­to­ber hous­ing sur­vey, show­ing the rental mar­ket here is tighter than ever. The va­cancy rate for apart­ments in the city has fallen to 1.6 per cent, the low­est since CMHC started tracking such data. And even though more apart­ments are be­ing built than ever, the sup­ply is sim­ply not keep­ing up with de­mand.

There are no simple so­lu­tions to these prob­lems. How­ever, be­tween Jan­uary and March, Burges­son and Liu’s team is go­ing to sit down and try to fig­ure it out.

“The idea is that we bring some new ideas,” Burges­son said.

The team will take part in a se­ries of five work­shops, start­ing with just learn­ing about hous­ing.

By the end of the work­shops, the team will have come up with five ideas. In March, the par­tic­i­pants will launch those ideas to the pub­lic at Hal­i­fax City Hall in

front of a panel of judges. The best idea will win seed fund­ing to make it hap­pen, but Burges­son hopes there will be fund­ing for the other four as well.

For now, he’s fo­cus­ing on re­cruit­ment. Burges­son said there are al­ready 50 ap­pli­cants to choose from, but ap­pli­ca­tions are open till Dec. 9.

“We’re happy with where we’re at with the ap­pli­ca­tions, we just want more peo­ple that are un­em­ployed.”

Once ap­pli­ca­tions close, Burges­son and Liu will con­duct in­ter­views to nar­row the team down to 30. Then, on Jan. 17, they’ll get to work.

To ap­ply, visit youth­ful­ci­­i­fax.

“THE IDEA IS THAT WE BRING SOME NEW IDEAS.” Al­fred Burges­son, Fu­ture City Builders co-lead


Joyce Liu and Al­fred Burges­son are the co-leads of the Fu­ture City Builders pro­gram in Hal­i­fax. They’re cur­rently re­cruit­ing 30 peo­ple be­tween the ages of 18-29 to take part in a se­ries of work­shops ad­dress­ing chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties around hous­ing in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.


MORE ON YOUTH­FUL CITIES AT The new Fu­ture City Builders pro­gram is re­cruit­ing young peo­ple in Hal­i­fax with ideas on how to build the city on five pri­or­ity fronts: ur­ban food, wa­ter, trans­porta­tion, hous­ing and waste sys­tems. PA­TRICK FULGENCIO FOR STARMETRO

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