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Souris local to boost town’s housing with 26-unit development

SOURIS – For Justin MacKenzie, getting his hometown’s approval to construct 26 housing units is about more than just a job.

“There was sort of the emotional tie,” he said. “(Because) the vacancy rate is very low in Souris.”

He and his wife have experience in construction and real estate, respectively, so they have been working on developing properties for the past few years. MacKenzie believes the response to P.E.I.’s housing shortage has been mostly centralized to urban areas such as Charlottetown, he said.

“So the rural community hasn’t seen as much of the development.”

While MacKenzie isn’t currently living in Souris, he jumped on the opportunity to give back to the town he grew up in when its council put out an expression of interest to develop on a three-acre parcel of land along Anniversary Avenue.

“We need more housing for sure,” Souris’ Mayor JoAnne Dunphy said.

The senior-friendly development was approved during a special council meeting at Souris town hall on Sept. 23. MacKenzie’s company, Heartwood Properties, will be constructing four buildings containing 26 townhouse units during a four-year period. 

Since there aren’t many other options for apartments in Souris and he already has about 30 people on the waitlist for this development, MacKenzie plans to have the first building completed by next summer.

“We’re getting started right away,” he said.

In support of MacKenzie’s development, the town had secured enough gas tax funding to construct road and infrastructure off of Anniversary Avenue to connect to the buildings.

“(It’s) very exciting for the town of Souris,” Dunphy said.

Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian

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