Marc Eady owns Gander Property Management, and says rezoning green space into residential land could help address the need for housing in the community. (Troy Turner/CBC)
Mixed opinions are emerging as Gander mulls over the possibility of rezoning green space for residential development to help with a provincial housing crisis.
Marc Eady of Gander Property Management spoke at a public information session last week about rezoning three lots of open green spaces into potential residential land.
Most people at the meeting were against the idea, but Eady believes in what the town is trying to do.
"Gander is essentially land locked in terms of development opportunities," Eady told CBC News on Monday.
"[I] tried to make folks aware that by the town taking on this initiative, it would probably [be] — from my perspective, it is — the most accessible land [that] would be developed to face some of these immediate challenges that we have."
Eady has submitted a proposal to the town to try and acquire land — land that isn't currently a green space — to build a six-unit housing complex in the community. He said a third of those would be affordable units.
He said he sees the impact of the housing crisis on Gander first hand, saying he last heard that around 30 people in the community are currently homeless.
"This is not an issue that's something we may face into the future, or something that we need a solution for two to three years from now. Like this is something we're facing now and we need immediate solutions," Eady said.
"Now is the time to do that, and I think the Town of Gander here has really recognized that…. If we can get the land, I firmly believe we can make some of these projects work and inject some supply that's greatly needed."
Percy Farwell is the mayor of Gander. (Garrett Barry/CBC)
Others in Gander, like Glenn Blandford, believe the idea of rezoning green space would be bad for the community.
"What they're doing now is trying to get rid of all the green space that we have left in the centre of town," Blandford told CBC News last week.
"We're surrounded by land, but I don't understand why they're doing that. Once you lose it, you have nothing."
Gander Mayor Percy Farwell said the town has received some opposition to the idea, and will take everything into account ahead of the deadline for public input on Friday.
He says nothing is set in stone, but said it's the town's responsibility to look at all options when it comes to addressing the housing crisis in Gander.
"It's not a simple choice of you know what, 'Why don't we just wipe out some of our green space?'" he said. "Anything that would happen on the land is very much within the control of the town council.
"We share those concerns, and we share a vision I think of a community that, you know, strives to be a beautiful community that has open spaces."