When seven houses went up for sale across the road from Susanna Fuller's small home on Bloomfield Street in Halifax she was told it would make a "great place for condos."
"Oh no it wouldn't," she responded. But when most people would be unable or unwilling to do much else, Fuller got a loan from her family, used her home for collateral, and put an offer in to buy the block for close to $1 million.
Fuller works with Imagine Bloomfield, an organization working towards the preservation, renovation and redvelopment of the Bloomfield Centre, a community centre around the corner from her home that was threatened with closure. Simply tearing down "good housing stock" for condos goes against the kind of development Fuller believes the city should be engaging in.
Fuller would like to see a more innovative housing model in Halifax, which creates diverse communities by incorporating affordable and coop housing into neighbourhood plans. She'd also love to see the houses across the street get fixed up with a green retrofit.
As someone who works in the non-profit sector and is on maternity leave nursing a two-week-old baby, however, Fuller has limited funds and energy. Reselling the houses as quickly as possible to families she hopes will love them and live in them is the best she can hope for, "I can't do more at this point," she says.
The North End of Halifax has seen an explosion of condo development over the past several months.
Raymond Ross has worked as a crossing guard near the corner of Young and Gottingen for almost ten years. He points to four new developments within eyeshot of where he works at Sullivan St and Gottingen and another a block away. The church behind him is being torn down and he expects the school will be next. "And you know who it's for?" he asks. "Housing for the big shots."
"The fact they're creating so many condos in an area that has historically been low income is really pushing poor people out," says Susan Lefort, Advocacy Coordinator for the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty.
According to Lefort, there's a lot that has to change in the city, "We need rent control. We need more money for affordable housing. We need overhaul of tenancy act. It's not just one thing that has to happen."
At her home on Bloomfield street, Fuller is nursing her baby and talking on the phone, attempting to work out the buying and selling of the houses across the street.
She muses that she hasn't had time to build a nursery for her newborn because she's trying to build him a neighbourhood.
A few blocks away, Ross wonders where the kids in his community will go to school if St Joseph's-Alexander McKay School gets torn down next for more condos for people with money. "The big shot does what he wants to do," he says. "All the rest of us get pushed out."