FEBRUARY 3, 2023
NOTICE OF APPROVAL
EXECUTIVE PANEL ON HOUSING
IN THE HALIFAX REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY
TAKE NOTICE THAT the Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr did, on Thursday, January 26, 2023, approved amendments to the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy, the Municipal Planning Strategy for Dartmouth and Cole Habrour/Westphal, and the Land Use Bylaw for Dartmouth and Cole Habrour/Westphal. On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, the Minister approved the development agreement between the Halifax Regional Municipality and applicable landowners to enable residential development to proceed within the Port Wallace Special Planning Area.
The planning documents have been reviewed and approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing as per Bill No. 63 - Housing in the Halifax Regional Municipality Act and the required notice placed in the newspaper circulating in the Municipality on February 3, 2023. The development agreement is in effect once it is filed at the Nova Scotia Registry of Deeds.
A summary of public feedback received during the final public comment period is now available. This information was considered by staff when finalizing the proposed planning documents and shared with the Executive Panel on Housing and the Minister.
The approved Port Wallace Secondary Planning Strategy has been incorporated into the Dartmouth Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law found on Dartmouth Plan Area webpage
The Regional Plan identifies Port Wallace (view location map) (PDF) as a potential future growth area. As proposed, the approximately 545-acre area will be developed with up to 4,900 new residential units and be serviced by municipal water and sewer.
In 2014, Regional Council initiated a comprehensive planning process to design the community and determine servicing needs. This also included a community engagement process and the establishment of the Port Wallace Public Participation Committee (PPC) to help guide detailed policies and regulations related to land use, community layout, density, parks and open space and other community amenities for the area.
In March 2022, Port Wallace was designated a “Special Planning Area” by the Nova Scotia Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on the recommendation of the Executive Panel on Housing of the Province of Nova Scotia to address housing challenges in the Capital Region. The Special Planning Area delegates development approval authority to the Minister as outlined in the Housing the Halifax Regional Municipality Act.
The following steps form part of the Port Wallace comprehensive planning process:
- Watershed Study – Shubenacadie Sub-Watershed Study Final Report (AECOM, 2013)
- Regional Council Initiation – Council initiated on March 4, 2014, see HRM Staff Report dated February 11, 2014;
- Land Suitability Analysis – Land Suitability Analysis (WSP, 2016)
- Infrastructure Study – Baseline Infrastructure Assessment (CBCL, 2018)
- Develop Port Wallace specific planning documents Secondary Planning Strategies and Land Use By-laws.
- Negotiate a development agreement with the property owners/ developers.
- Present finalized planning documents to the Executive Panel on Housing for their review and recommendation to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; and
- Develop Capital Cost Contribution (CCC) charges - in progress. Note: the CCC program will be tabled with Regional Council at the conclusion of the overall process and will require amendments to the Regional Subdivision By-law to implement;
In addition to the above studies, various engagement sessions, including meetings of the Port Wallace Public Participation Committee (PPC), have occurred as part of the comprehensive planning process (see documents below). Since the process began in 2014, two community meetings and two community workshops have taken place.
On June 16, 2022, the Nova Scotia Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved amendments to the Regional Plan, the Dartmouth Land Use By-law, and a development agreement allowing for early tree removal, blasting and earthworks within the first proposed phase of the Port Wallace development.
Following the final consultation period on the draft planning documents, the municipality will forward the documents to the Executive Panel on Housing for their review and consideration. The Executive Panel on Housing will make recommendations to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing who has the authority to approve planning documents within Special Planning Areas.
- Shubenacadie Sub-Watershed Study Final Report (AECOM, April 2013)
- Land Suitability Analysis Study (WSP, 2016)
- Cost of Servicing Plan (CBCL, 2009)
- Baseline Infrastructure Assessment (CBCL 2018)
- Build NS Commissioned Environmental Reports
- 2021: Port Wallace Secondary Planning Process, Environmental Update and Revised Work Plan
- 2019: Port Wallace Secondary Planning Process and Environmental Investigation Near Barry’s Run
- 2018: Port Wallace Environmental Investigation
- 2016: Port Wallace Secondary Plan Report
- 2014: Port Wallace Public Participation Program Report
- 2009: Cost of Servicing Study
Community Engagement and the Port Wallace Public Participation Committee (PPC)
Community engagement is an important part of the planning process. The Port Wallace Public Participation Committee was established in 2014, to help guide public engagement and to make recommendations regarding the proposed development. Additional details regarding the Committee’s role can be found in the Public Participation Resolution for Port Wallace [PDF].
Minutes from the Committee’s meetings are available below.
On April 22, 2022, the Province of Nova Scotia amended the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter to suspend planning advisory committees and other advisory committees (including public participation committees) established by Halifax Regional Council for a period of three years. In accordance with this direction, no future meetings of the Committee will be scheduled.
Since the planning process began in 2014, two community meetings and two community workshops have taken place.
Agendas and Minutes:
- September 8, 2014
- October 6, 2014
• Summary of RP+5 Changes, Regional Council Presentation
• Secondary Planning Strategy Example (Bedford West)
- April 19, 2016
- June 29, 2016
- September 19, 2016
- January 9, 2017
- February 27, 2017
- February 5, 2018
- April 12, 2018
- April 30, 2018
- May 17, 2018
- May 31, 2018
- June 14, 2018
- June 28, 2018
- September 27, 2018
Agenda & Meeting Notes
• Working Draft – Port Wallace Secondary Plan
• Working Draft – Port Wallace Zones (Land Use By-law)
• Working Draft – Map 1 – Port Wallace Secondary Planning Area
• Working Draft – Map 2 Port Wallace Generalized Future Land Use Map
- October 11, 2018
- November 1, 2018
- November 15, 2018
- December 12, 2018
- January 16, 2020
- December 16, 2021
- What is happening in Port Wallace?
Port Wallace has been identified as a future growth area. Growth areas are defined as locations where the municipality envisions service development (municipal piped sewer and water).
A comprehensive planning process for the area has been underway since 2014 to design the community.
Detailed planning documents that include policies and regulations to guide land uses, community layout, densities, open space and other community amenities have been drafted and are ready for public review.
Community engagement is an important part of this process. From October 6 to 24, 2022, a public comment period will be open to gain feedback from residents on the draft Port Wallace planning documents.
Comments can be submitted via email. Specifically, the municipality is looking for feedback on:
Due to the Special Planning Area status, there will not be a public hearing at Regional Council. This public comment period is the final opportunity for residents to provide feedback on this planning process.
On March 25, 2022, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for the Province of Nova Scotia, on the recommendation of the Executive Panel on Housing, identified a number of areas within the municipality to become “Special Planning Areas” to address housing availability in the Capital Region of Nova Scotia, including the Port Wallace area.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is responsible for planning approvals within the identified Special Planning Areas, as outlined in the Housing the Halifax Regional Municipality Act.
- Why is this happening now?
The draft Port Wallace planning documents are now ready for public review. Once the final public comment period has ended, staff will use the feedback received to finalize the proposed planning documents and will share all comments with the Executive Panel on Housing.
- Where is Port Wallace?
The Port Wallace site is located on the northeastern edge of Dartmouth. View a map of the area.
- How big is Port Wallace?
Port Wallace encompasses approximately 545 acres of land. View a map of the area.
- What is being proposed?
The Port Wallace lands have been designated as “Urban Settlement” under the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy.
This means that urban development (development serviced by municipal sewer and water systems, rather than individual on-site well and septic systems) is envisioned for this area.
The property owners of the lands have worked with municipal Planning & Development staff to prepare concept plans for the subdivision and development of the lands.
As proposed by the Port Wallace Secondary Planning Strategy (PDF), the area will be developed with up to 4,900 new residential units enabled through the expansion of the municipal water and sewer systems. Additionally, new roads will be constructed and parkland will be provided. View the concept plan.
- What has happened as part of the Port Wallace planning process?
Since 2013, the below has occurred:
• A Land Suitability Analysis was completed in 2016, which identifies areas within the site of environmental and cultural importance;
• A Master Infrastructure Study was completed in 2018, which analyses the infrastructure required (water, sewer, stormwater, transportation) to service the development;
• An Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted in 2019 for the lands around Barry’s Run;
• Public Meetings in 2014 and 2016; and,
• Input from the Port Wallace Public Participation Committee.
- What is a Secondary Planning Strategy?
A Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) is a strategic policy document that provides a community vision to an area and guides how it should grow and develop.
A Secondary Planning Strategy (SPS) is generally created to apply to a specific geographic region within a larger MPS area.
An SPS is currently being proposed to guide the future growth and development of the Port Wallace Special Planning Area. Read the draft.
- What is a development agreement?
A development agreement is a planning tool used to regulate the use of land.
This agreement is a legal contract between a landowner and the municipality that directs how a piece of land can be used. A development agreement may include details around building design, the layout of streets and roads and the density of various land uses.
All landowners (both current and future) are responsible for the requirements as outlined in the initial development agreement.
What is a Land Use By-law?
A Land Use By-law (LUB) is a planning document that provides a detailed blueprint for future development of an area. It reflects the vision of the applicable Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS), Secondary Planning Strategy (SPS) and the Regional Plan.
The Land Use By-law contains a list of zones that are applied to all properties within the communities that the by-law refers to.
Zones outline the types of uses that are permitted on these properties. Additionally, zones provide specific rules around the size, shape, and location of buildings that can be constructed on a property.
The municipality currently consists of 21 Plan Areas, each with their own set of Land Use By-laws and policies. See further information on plan areas and land use By-laws.
- Was a traffic study done for this development?
Yes. A Master Infrastructure Study was prepared for the development by professional engineers. The study considered how the development will impact the surrounding streets both from a safety and capacity perspective, as well as what potential upgrades or changes must occur to support the development.
- Will this project include Affordable Housing?
While the developer may choose to provide affordable housing through provincial and federal programs, there are no municipal affordable housing requirements included in the proposed planning documents.
- Will this project include Accessible Housing?
Yes. The National Building Code of Canada requires a minimum ratio of 1 in 20 barrier-free (accessible units) in a multi-unit building. Certain types of lower-density housing (such as singles, duplexes and townhouses) are exempt from providing these types of units.
When fully constructed, the Port Wallace development will contain approximately 150 accessible housing units.
- Will the development have additional access to Highway 107 (Forest Hills Extension)?
Yes. Technical reviews to date have indicated additional access to Highway 107 is required to support the full build-out of the proposed development. As 100-series highways are under the jurisdiction of the Province of Nova Scotia, there are ongoing reviews and discussions concerning the specific location and design of this new highway access.
- How will the water quality of Lake Charles be protected?
The municipality has regulations regarding stormwater management. As a part of the permitting process, the developers must prepare and submit stormwater management plans (prepared by professional engineers) to the municipality that demonstrate that stormwater will be managed appropriately.
Given the environmental sensitivity of Barry’s Run, the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Climate Change has indicated that they will be reviewing the stormwater management plans submitted for the development.
Lake Charles is also included in the municipality’s LakeWatchers program, which monitors the water quality of municipal lakes.
- I am worried the development will negatively impact schools in the area. Is this something the municipality considers?
Yes. The municipality consults with both the Halifax Regional Centre for Education and the Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial on major developments. Land has been designated within the development to ensure new school facilities can be accommodated if necessary. However, any decisions regarding new school construction rests with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
- Who approves the Port Wallace planning documents?
On March 25, 2022, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for the Province of Nova Scotia identified a number of areas within the municipality to become Special Planning Areas. These Special Planning Areas were created to address housing availability in the Capital Region of Nova Scotia upon recommendations from the Executive Panel on Housing.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is responsible for planning approvals within the identified Special Planning Areas, as outlined in the Housing the Halifax Regional Municipality Act. This means that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing will oversee planning approvals in Port Wallace, as it is a Special Planning Area.
- If the provincial Minister is the approving authority for the use of the land, what say does the municipality have in this process?
Municipal staff are completing the planning review as they typically would. All regulations and requirements still need to be met by developments within the Special Planning Areas. However, public engagement opportunities are compressed and there is no Council review of Public Hearing.
- I noticed that trees are being cut down on the site. Is this allowed?
Yes. In July 2022, following the recommendation of the Executive Panel on Housing, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved a development agreement to enable early tree removal and earthworks of 85-acre of the total 545-acre Port Wallace site.
- How are construction activities monitored and regulated in the municipality?
Construction activities in the region are regulated through several by-laws, including:
1. By-law G-200, Grade Alteration and Stormwater Management Associated with Land Development – applies to the grade alteration and stormwater management of the land and the associated Administrative Order 2020-010-OP, Respecting Stormwater Management Standards for Development Activities;
2. By-law B-600, Respecting Blasting – outlines minimum standards permitted when blasting within the municipality. All blasting activities require a Blasting Permit from the municipality;
3. Administrative Order 2018-05-ADM, Respecting Construction Site Management – outlines the best management practices for development of sites in proximity to public streets;
4. By-Law N-200, Respecting Noise – states that noise activity is permitted during construction; and,
5. By-Law T-400, Respecting the establishment of truck routes for certain trucking motor vehicles within the Halifax Regional Municipality – controls the routes trucks must use and how trucks may access a given site. This By-law applies to trucks used for hauling construction material and commercial uses (i.e. moving vans, deliveries, etc.).