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Project Overview

Why do we need a Centre Plan?

The Regional Centre is currently regulated by no less than four community municipal planning strategies (MPS) and four land use by-laws (LUB), with the majority of planning policies and land use regulations dating back to the late 1970s. The planning documents, with the exception of those for Downtown Halifax, are in serious need of revision to bring them up to par with current planning standards and best practices.

In October 2011, HRM initiated the Centre Plan for the whole Regional Centre and directed that a new Regional Centre Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law be prepared to replace the Municipal Planning Strategies and Land Use By-laws for Halifax and Dartmouth within the Regional Centre.

Where does the Centre Plan currently stand?

The Centre Plan project was reinitiated in 2014, following the completion of the five-year review of the Regional Plan. Key initiatives of the project up to the present time has included sourcing key technical studies and recommended policy recommendations on issues such as density bonsuing and housing.

The current phase represents the launch of the project's significant public consultation process being delivered by the Planning and Development department, in cooperation with O2 Consultants and the volunteer Community Design Advisory Committee (CDAC).

How do I participate in the Centre Plan process?

The municipality is committed to an open and inclusive public engagement process. Community and professional organizations, institutions, the business community, diverse cultural groups and other interest groups can participate in long range planning efforts for the Centre Plan in a variety of ways.

Please visit our engagement site to find a public session near you (taking place in March 2016) or to contribute to the conversation.

Will the Centre Plan identify all the amenities that I need in my neighbourhood?

The Centre Plan is a plan at the scale of the whole Regional Centre, it is not a neighbourhood plan. It will identify programs for ensuring that communities are able to be complete communities and it will give targets for population and employment growth in line with this. It is not an exercise in Neighbourhood Planning.

How does the Centre Plan relate to HRMbyDesign?

When HRMbyDesign was first used to describe the work of the Planning & Development department the Centre Plan was always seen as the third stage of the HRMbyDesign process. The HRMbyDesign process was successful in setting the Vision and Guiding Principles for the Regional Centre, and establishing the Downtown Halifax Plan.

What is the Regional Centre?

The Regional Centre is the urban core of the Halifax Regional Municipality, and is composed of the Halifax Peninsula and Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway and has a total land area of 33.54 square kilometres. The Regional Centre is the focus of commerce, business, government, health care, post secondary education, and cultural and entertainment sectors for not only the Halifax Regional Municipality, but for the entire Atlantic Region. The municipality has adopted a vision and guiding principles for this area that forms the basis for planning and strategic investments.

Vision Statement:

  1. The Regional Centre is the symbolic, historic and functional heart of the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is distinguished by its rich past as is evident in: its historic architecture, traditional neighbourhoods and national landmarks; its natural features as shaped by its grand parks, harbour, lakes, waterways and rolling hills; and its regional importance as an economic hub, capital district, educational centre, health focus and cultural heart.

  2. The Regional Centre will build on its distinctions and assets to nurture an urban context that enhances quality of life, enriches urban living and becomes a global destination.

  3. The Regional Centre will assert and affirm a legible and ordered urban structure that will reinforce the best qualities and characteristics of its unique neighbourhoods and districts.

  4. The Regional Centre's cultural vitality is rooted in its diverse population and accordingly it will strive to be an open, safe, affordable, accessible and welcoming place to people of all walks of life.

  5. The Regional Centre's vibrancy, animation and economic health will be strengthened through the cultivation of a compact, civic inspired and human-scaled urban fabric of streets, blocks and buildings.

Guiding Principles:

  • Sustainable: Design, plan and build with respect for economic, environmental, social and cultural sustainability. Create resilient communities that adapt to evolving opportunities and needs.

  • High Quality: New development should be of high quality and compatible with other high quality developments. Promote high quality architecture and urban design that respects great heritage resources, including neighbourhoods.

  • Heritage and Culture: Heritage resources, including districts, buildings, landscapes and culture, should be recognized, used, protected and enhanced. Ensure lasting legacies (buildings, spaces, streets) are maintained, and new ones are created.

  • Movement: Integrate land use planning with transportation planning in such a way that alternatives to driving become an easy choice.

  • Complete Neighbourhoods: Support safe, mixed-use and diverse neighbourhoods, including: affordable housing; residential, commercial, employment uses; and visually and physically accessible amenity space.

  • Growth and Change: Ensure that new developments respond to the natural, cultural, historical, and urban character of their context.

  • Process: Foster a culture of support for the building/ construction of quality urban design, and involve neighbourhood communities in local planning matters.

  • Connected: Prominent views to prominent natural and built features should be recognized, protected and enhanced. Enhance safe and appealing connections within the Regional Centre including to and from the waterfront, open spaces and neighbourhoods.