Housing Accelerator Fund

a graphic of four multi-unit buildings against a royal blue background with text that says "urgent changes to planning documents for housing"

Last updated: June 13, 2024



The amendments for Urgent Changes to Planning Documents for Housing were passed unanimously by Halifax Regional Council on Thursday, May 23, 2024 following a public hearing that began on May 21, 2024.

As of Thursday June 13, 2024, following Provincial approval, the Urgent Changes to Planning Documents for Housing are now in effect. All relevant planning documents have been updated and can be accessed here.

Key Documents


Further Information & Resources

Use the tabs below to access materials designed to help navigate the changes

Interactive Map

 Use the interactive map to explore the new approved zoning. More information on how to use the mapping platform can be found towards the bottom of this page.

Fact Sheets

*Please note that these materials were created to explain the proposed changes and will be updated shortly to reflect the recent notice of approval*

Process Timeline

Key dates of the amendment process are listed below.

June 13, 2024: Notice of Provincial approval is received. All amendments to planning documents are in effect as of this date.

May 21-23, 2024: Public Hearing and Second Reading of the amendment package at Regional Council. Regional Council approves the package on May 23, 2024. 

April 23, 2024: First Reading of the amendment package at Regional Council. Council makes a series of amendments to the package at First Reading. 

April 17, 2024: Staff present the revised proposed changes to the Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC). HAC recommends Regional Council give First Reading to the amendments. 

February 17-April 16, 2024: Staff revise initial proposed changes based on feedback from the public, industry and relevant groups. See a summary of the proposed changes after public feedback here.

January 17 - February 16, 2024: HAF website is published with the initial proposed changes and staff accept feedback submissions from the public until February 16, 2024. For more information on the engagement process, and for a summary of public feedback, read the What We Heard Report.

October 12, 2023: CMHC announces that the Government of Canada and Halifax Regional Municipality have reached an agreement to fast track housing units over the next three years. See the municipality’s Action Plan here.

October 4, 2023: Minister of Housing Sean Fraser approves Halifax’s Housing Accelerator Fund application. See the letter here.

September 26, 2023: Regional Council directs the CAO to expedite amendments to planning documents to support key HAF initiatives. Find the Housing Accelerator Fund Application Update report here.

September 21, 2023: Minister of Housing Sean Fraser requests Mayor Savage to consider additional planning initiatives prior to approving the municipality’s Housing Accelerator Fund application. See the letter here.

June 6, 2023: Regional Council directs staff to submit a Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan and enter into a contribution agreement should the municipality be approved for funding under the program. Read the Housing Accelerator Fund Initial Report here.

Staff Presentations

 Slides prepared by staff to help explain the key changes.

Background Documents

Studies, reports and further reading to provide background information on the changes.



The municipality is facing significant challenges related to housing affordability and availability. Unprecedented population growth and challenging market conditions has led to a rising demand for housing that the current rate of residential construction cannot meet. As of 2023, the municipality’s housing shortage is estimated at almost 20,000 units – and the shortage is growing.

In collaboration with the federal and provincial governments, as part of the continued effort to support housing supply, the municipality is proposing amendments to planning documents that regulate the type of development in the municipality’s serviced areas (where water and wastewater services exist). The proposed changes to planning documents are intended to:

  • Meet the housing objectives of the Halifax Regional Municipality, as well as the federal and provincial governments to increase housing supply and streamline approvals; 
  • Respond to the requirements established for the Municipality under the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Housing Accelerator Fund Program;   
  • Create more supportive policy and regulatory conditions for building new housing, providing more housing options, and diversifying construction types;  
  • Build on the Centre Plan framework to further support gentle density, missing middle housing, more housing on transit, more housing for students and residential conversions; 
  • Advance Suburban Opportunity Sites aligned with transit, and other amendments to suburban planning documents that improve regulatory conditions; and
  • Make other minor adjustments to regulations to support housing supply.


Common Questions

How do I find out if these changes affect the neighborhood I live in?

If you have access to municipal water and sewer, there is a good chance these changes will impact how you can develop your property. To find out more, you can search your address in the interactive map here.

Some changes apply across the municipality, including an increase in floor area and height for backyard suites.

For the Suburban Area, the changes include:  

  • Allowing 4 units on a lot, subject to existing setbacks and lot control standards (e.g. lot coverage). To find out more, visit the Community Planning Area page.
  • Reducing minimum parking requirements for new residential developments
  • Recommending opportunity sites for rezonings. Find a complete list of requests and more details here. 

For properties located in Regional Centre, use the interactive map to search your address. The map will show your property’s zone and maximum building height. You can use the corresponding Fact Sheets (see the Further Information & Resources tab above) to find out more about the updated zoning.

The changes also address over 60 site specific requests in the Regional Centre. See a list of the recommended sites here.

Still have questions? Contact staff at haf@halifax.ca for assistance.

Are any of these new developments affordable?

The changes are intended to reduce regulatory barriers to building housing and to enable density more broadly.  It is anticipated that these adjustments will help to address challenges regarding housing supply across the municipality.

While affordable housing falls under provincial jurisdiction, the municipality supports it through several initiatives. You can learn more here.

Why are these changes necessary?

These changes are largely in response to:  

  • Declining housing affordability and availability – the vacancy rate for rental housing has been at 1.0% for 3 years in a row, and rental prices increased by over 11% on average last year alone; 
  • A growing housing shortage that is estimated at 20,000 units in HRM and growing;
  • Challenging market conditions which include high interest rates and labour shortages;
  • Rapid population growth – the population is growing at close to 2 – 4.5% annually. HRM’s population increased by more than 20,000 people last year;
  • The Housing Accelerator Fund created by the federal government, which aims to add an additional 2,600 housing units to HRM’s housing stock over the next 3 years;
  • Provincial legislation designed to increase and streamline housing approvals, including the work of the Executive Panel on Housing.
How will the municipality protect heritage buildings and areas in the Regional Centre?

Maintaining Heritage Properties and Areas is a key objective of the changes. 

To balance the significant upzoning of Established Residential (ER) areas in the Regional Centre, additional incentives are being provided to maintain or register new heritage properties.

This includes expanding the heritage development agreement policy to the Downtown Halifax Zone to support additional housing and heritage preservation and broadening the proposed set of Heritage Conservation District Study Areas. Visit the interactive map to see the location of proposed HCDs.

The boundaries of some proposed Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs) have been expanded. These proposed HCDs include:

•    Five Corners, Dartmouth; 
•    Downtown Dartmouth, Dartmouth;
•    Oakland Road, Halifax; and
•    Creighton’s Field, Halifax

Four new proposed HCDs have been added to the list of existing proposed HCDs (see above). The new proposed HCDs include: 
•    Flower Streets, Dartmouth;
•    Ropeworks, Dartmouth;
•    Young-Woodill Divisions, Halifax; and
•    Jubilee Road, Halifax. 

ER designated properties within these HCD study areas have been re-zoned ER-2, which is intended to balance the broad application and increased permissions of the new ER-3 zone. 

Where would 40 storey buildings be permitted? 

The changes aim to enable additional housing in areas that are designated for growth and located close to transit services. 

The amendments provide a general increase in maximum height and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in the CEN-2 Zone, which would allow buildings limited to 90 metres (approx. 33 storeys) under the current Centre Plan to achieve up to 40 storeys in height. It should be noted that buildings in the CEN-2 Zone are still be subject to other requirements that may restrict maximum height, such as FAR and Halifax Citadel View Planes and Ramparts Sight Lines.

Like the CEN-2 Zone, maximum building height in the CEN-1 Zone is now regulated by storeys. The maximum building height in the CEN-1 Zone is 33 storeys, which is approximately equivalent to the existing maximum height of 90 metres. However, FAR restrictions are very low and continue to apply in the CEN-1 Zone.

A maximum height of 90 metres (approx. 33 storeys) remains where existing or proposed heritage development agreements are enabled and in areas that may impact emergency helicopter flights (as indicated by NS Emergency Health Services). As a result of these policies, it is not expected that 40 storey buildings are achievable in the Quinpool Road, Spring Garden Road, Gottingen Street, or Fenwick and Lucknow Centres.  

Please visit the interactive map to see the updated height limits for zones in the Regional Centre.

Why did staff recommend up to 8 units on a lot in the Regional Centre? 

Halifax has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country, and one of the sharpest increases in rent levels. To respond to the current high level of population growth, and to address the housing shortage (appx. 20,000 units as of 2023), about 8,000 new units are needed annually. To meet this demand, we cannot rely on a small number of large developers; we also need smaller developers and individual property owners help create new housing. While the HAF agreement promotes this work, the amendments considered the full scope of housing needs - not just the minimum requirements of the federal program.  

We know from the experience of other cities that adding “gentle density” is a slow process. To enable more missing middle homes to be built faster, the  changes now allow for more than 4 units on larger lots in the most walkable neighbourhoods of the Regional Centre, where transit and services exist. It is important to note that the cities of Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa have implemented similar policies.  

Staff estimate that the changes to zoning and density can increase regulatory capacity by approximately 71,000 units in the Regional Centre. While the construction of these units will be incremental, zoning changes of this scale are still important to increase housing stock over the long term.

It is expected that many Canadian jurisdictions will adopt a similar approach of allowing at least 4 units on residential lots to address housing supply challenges. The HAF process provided an opportunity for Halifax to become a leader in applying modern planning principles with an approach tailored to the local context.

8 units are now permitted in the ER-3 Zone because these areas are already:

The changes enable density in a way that is compatible with the existing neighbourhood by:

  • Limiting the number of units based on lot size;
  • Implementing pedestrian friendly design requirements for buildings with 5 or more dwelling units; and
  • Implementing built form requirements (such as maximum depth and width) for buildings with 5 or more dwelling units.

For more information on the updated requirements for multi-unit dwellings (5 or more units) in the ER-3 Zone, please see the fact sheets here.

Why have changes been made to minimum parking standards?

Many residential zones within the Regional Centre are within reasonable access to Halifax Transit Corridor Routes (Routes #1-10) or proposed Rapid Transit routes, and are close to existing services, jobs and amenities. Increasing density in these areas provides more housing options for residents that do not own single occupancy vehicles. In fact, most residential uses in the Regional Centre currently do not have minimum parking requirements.

Experience has shown that even with removing minimum parking requirements, many developers still provide on-site parking, even if they are not required. In addition, the cost of adding parking spaces can increase the overall cost of residential units. 
The Plans and By-laws guiding development in the Suburban Area generally require a minimum of 1.5 parking spaces per dwelling unit for residential developments. This requirement reflects an assumption that single occupancy vehicles are the primary mobility option for residents in these areas and add to construction costs.

To reflect the goals of the HAF and the Integrated Mobility Priority Plan, parking requirements for multi-unit dwellings have been reduced to 1 parking space per 3 units. This is to provide flexibility, allowing property owners to determine the level of parking they will provide based on market demand and financing requirements.

What are some examples of changes being made based on resident feedback or staff analysis?

Staff received significant feedback on the amendments, both positive and negative. Nearly half of all public feedback received was specific to an area of local concern – a specific zoning change proposed in a certain neighbourhood. Read the What We Heard Report for more details on the public feedback process.

In response to these concerns, staff reviewed and modified the zoning of these areas in a way that ensures key housing goals are met. These key changes include:

  • Revised zoning and heights in areas near post-secondary institutions (Peninsula South and Peninsula North), and along Victoria Road;
  • Additional lot size and urban design requirements for Established Residential areas;
  • One additional proposed Heritage Conservation District (HCD) and expanded boundaries for one existing proposed HCD, for a total of eight proposed new or expanded HCD study areas in the Regional Centre;  
  • Addressing additional site-specific requests in the Regional Centre; and
  • Minor changes to Suburban Opportunity Sites.
How is the municipality planning for infrastructure (e.g. roads, sewers, parks, schools) to support the population growth? 

Planning and Development staff continuously share information and work with service providers, including Public Works, Halifax Transit, Halifax Water, Parks and Recreation, Halifax Regional Centre for Education, and emergency service providers. This allows us to assist in coordinating infrastructure planning in response to unprecedented population growth in the municipality.

For example, Halifax Water is in the process of updating planning documents to identify upgrades and funding required to their network to support this anticipated population, and Halifax Transit has a Rapid Transit Strategy  to support future growth.

Addressing constraints in local water, wastewater, stormwater and transportation infrastructure are the responsibility of the developer. The municipality and Halifax Water will continue to address regional infrastructure and service needs in both the short and long-term. 

When did these changes come into effect?

Introduction and first reading occurred at Regional Council on April 23, 2024. After making a series of amendments to the proposed changes, Regional Council proceeded with a public hearing on May 21-23, 2024.

Regional Council approved the proposed changes on May 23, 2024 and the municipality received Provincial approval on June 13, 2024. 

Please see the Process Timeline tab in the Further Information & Resources section for a full overview of the amendment process.

What changes did Regional Council make to the proposed amendments at First Reading?

First Reading was Regional Council’s first look and opportunity to review and adjust the amendments that were brought forward by staff.

The following 19 adjustments to the package of changes to planning documents were added on April 23, 2024 and were approved during the Second Reading:

  • Increase the floor area ratio (FAR) for 219 Main Street, Dartmouth from 6.0 to 6.5
  • Rezone the 6400 block of Pepperell Street, Halifax to the Corridor (COR) zone at 7 storeys in height. 
  • Rezone 6 to 20 Ropewalk Lane, Dartmouth from the COR zone with a maximum height of 9 storeys to the ER-3 zone with a maximum height of 11 metres. 
  • Rezone 5 to 23 Ropewalk Lane, Dartmouth from the COR zone with a maximum height of 7 storeys to the ER-3 zone with a maximum height of 11 metres and including the properties back into the Dartmouth North (DN) Precinct and Dartmouth North 1 Special Area. 
  • Reduce the floor area ration (FAR) for from 3.0 to 2.25 for CEN-1 zoned properties on the block bound by Creighton, Cunard, Nora Bernard, and Gottingen Streets in Halifax.  
  • Remove 560A to 560D Herring Cove Road, Halifax as Suburban Area Opportunity Sites from the Suburban Housing Accelerator MPS and LUB. 
  • Add 10 Kearney Lake Road, Halifax as a Suburban Area Opportunity Sites from the Suburban Housing Accelerator MPS and LUB with a maximum height of 4 storeys. 
  • Reintroduce maximum bedroom counts for ER-3 zone in the Regional Centre Plan Area. 
  • Rezone 1 MacRae Avenue, Dartmouth from ER-3 with a maximum height of 11 metres to Higher Order Residential (HR-1) with a maximum height of 5 storeys. 
  • Increase the maximum height of 122, 126 and 134 Renfrew Street, Dartmouth from 5 storeys to 7 storeys.
  • Housekeeping in the Bedford LUB to ensure consistency for backyard suites across HRM.
  • Add 22 Mcintosh St, Halifax as a Suburban Area Opportunity Sites from the Suburban Housing Accelerator MPS and LUB with a maximum height of 3 storeys. 
  • Housekeeping in the Regional Centre LUB to ensure consistency. 
  • Adjustment to the Development Agreement policy for 112 and 114 Wyse Road (Case 22487) to allow an additional 2 storeys in height so long as the built form is the same and 25% of units are maintained as 2-bedroom units. 
  • Adjust the requirement for solid-waste management screening for three-, four- and multi- unit dwelling uses in the Regional Centre. 
  • Initiate a separate process to consider heritage registration for 6 to 20 Ropewalk Lane, Dartmouth. 
  • Rezone 6411 Coburg Road and 1530, 1538, 1540, 1550, and 1566 Oxford Street, Halifax HR-1 with a maximum height of 7 storeys to ER-3 with a maximum height of 11 metres.
  • Increase the maximum height from 7 storeys to 9 storeys for sections along the north side of Coburg Road and three properties on the west side of Oxford Street in Halifax. 
  • Initiate a separate process to consider allowing more than one backyard suite on a lot. 
  • Initiate a separate process to explore the potential to incorporate municipally leased spaces in private mixed-use buildings for community uses such as libraries, daycares, clinics, bakeries, food banks, and below-market leases for non-profits and social enterprises. 
  • Initiate a separate process to review requirements for common space, living space, or non-habitable rooms in small-scale multi-unit dwelling uses in ER zones. 
I’m planning to build a new building on my property, but I haven’t started yet. How will the proposed changes affect my permit application?  

As of June 13, 2024, all applications submitted after May 7, 2024 are subject to the new Plan and By-Law, as per Section 253 of the HRM Charter
If you submitted an application prior to May 7, 2024 and have not received a construction permit, please reach out the planner assigned to your application for more information.
For other inquiries regarding applications, please visit our customer service desk on the 3rd floor of Duke Tower, or call 311 to start an inquiry. 

What is the HAF?

The Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) is a federal program that is administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The HAF will provide up to $4 billion in funding directly to local authorities to incentivize and support initiatives that accelerate the supply of housing.

In order to receive funding, the municipality must meet the conditions of the HAF agreement, including Regional Council’s approval of additional zoning changes to create at least 2,600 additional units. The HRM must implement the initiatives identified in the Action Plan within two years of the start of the HAF program.

One of the initiatives is focused on regulatory changes for housing. Many of the adjustments to planning documents being proposed are in response to these requirements.  

How can I find more information?

This website contains all the information related to the changes to planning documents in support of the HAF.

If you have any further questions, you can reach out to staff by email at haf@halifax.ca.  


Interactive Map

*Map currently being updated to reflect the recent notice of approval*

This interactive map shows how the amendments impact land use policies and zoning in the Regional Centre and Suburban Area. 

Note: This map has been prepared for public information purposes only; it does not include a comprehensive regulatory language and is subject to change.  

How to use this map:

Pan around the map to explore the different layers. To see more, click on the map to view pop-up information about the property.  

In the top right corner of the map you will see the following icons:   

an image of four blue buttons that correspond to the buttons in the interactive map platform.


Use the Basemap icon to change the basemap  

Use the Filter icon to select specific proposed zoning options  

Use the Layers icon to turn on and off the layers of the map  

Use the Legend icon to get a description of what is being shown on the map 


Please refer to the fact sheets (see the Further Information & Resources tab above) or full package of amendments and the staff report for further details on the proposed changes.


Missing Middle Housing - Video 1
Missing Middle Housing - Video 2



four logos aligned horizontally: the national housing strategy, Canada, CMHC and Halifax