Mayor announces location for Performing Arts Centre, Homelessness Task Force

Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien delivered his inaugural State of the City address tonight at the Fredericton Convention Centre.  During his address, he touched on several issues, and made two exciting announcements.

Performing Arts Centre Location

After months of research, consultation and planning, Mayor O’Brien announced that the new Performing Arts Centre will be built somewhere on the site of the current York Street surface parking lot, in the West Riverfront area of the downtown.  The location supports the vision of the City Centre Plan to extend the downtown to the riverfront; eventually converting St. Anne’s Point Drive from a suburban freeway into a riverside promenade.

“We still have to do some additional planning and study to do in an effort to define the precise area that works best, but we now have a site,” said Mayor O’Brien.  “This is pretty exciting news and we’ll now meet with our Provincial MLAs and our Federal MP to follow up on their previous commitments of support for this project.  Our plan has been to break ground for this project in 2018, so it’s time to finalize the commitments and get going.”

The new Performing Arts Centre is the City’s number one capital project priority.  The City has committed to a $14M investment in the project, to be leveraged against funding from other levels of government and the private sector.

Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness

The second announcement of the night was the creation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, a community- and City-driven initiative to identify actions within the City’s jurisdiction to help Fredericton end long-term, persistent homelessness and increase affordable housing options.

The Task Force will develop innovative, evidence-based recommendations to help meet goals set in The Road Home, a plan to end sustained homelessness in Fredericton developed by the Community Action Group on Homelessness.

“The plan is in action, but it needs more support from our caring community, and from the City,” said Mayor O’Brien. “Through the work of the task force, we will engage our community to break down barriers between governments and service providers, to advise how the City can develop new policies and designs to promote affordable housing, and to contribute financially, in a meaningful way, to this cause.”

The task force will be made up of architects, designers, builders, private, non-profit and public sector property developers, non-profit associations, apartment owners, and academics.  It will have four months to develop recommendations for Council to approve and act on to help Fredericton become a more sustainable, diverse and affordable city.

In addition to Mayor O’Brien, who will co-chair the task force, the leadership team includes:

  • Coun. Eric Price: Chair of the City of Fredericton Affordable Housing Committee and Task Force Co-Chair
  • Jennifer Landry: Chair of the Flows Working Group
  • Sandi MacKinnon: Chair of the Partnerships Working Group,
  • John Leroux: Chair of the Form Working Group
  • Coun. John McDermid and Jason LeJeune: Co-chairs of the Finance Working Group

“Changing the way we respond to homelessness will require the collective effort of all levels of government, service providers, our faith-based community, private and non-profit sectors, along with the efforts of individual citizens,” said Mayor O’Brien.  “There is a place for everyone in this bold vision, and we need everyone’s involvement to achieve it.”

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During his address, Mayor O’Brien also highlighted the plans and actions the City is taking to prepare for the city’s future growth such as long-term financial plans, addressing the City’s infrastructure deficit, continuing process improvement with Lean Six Sigma, implementing the completed City Centre Plan and Garrison District Master Plan, developing a new municipal plan and growth strategy though Imagine Fredericton, and creating a renewable energy strategy.

“The City is a national leader in asset management, fiscal sustainability, and process improvement.  We have invested heavily, and wisely, in recreational facilities, infrastructure renewal, and leading edge technology,” said Mayor O’Brien. “We are growing, we are well managed, and we have our collective eye to the future.”