Principles. The Halifax Regional Municipality is committed to facilitating public road access for municipal residents whose principal residences are accessed from private roads which do not form part of the HRM municipal street system. It is recognized by HRM that facilitating the maintenance of private roads is a necessary municipal service that will ensure the safety and long term usability of roads situated on privately owned land. Authority to fund work on private road is pursuant to clause 79 (ab) of the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter ("HRM Charter").
Scope of Assistance. The purpose of this policy is to provide a financing procedure for the funding and repayment of work to maintain private roads, including culverts, retaining walls, sidewalks, curbs and gutters that are associated with those private roads. Road maintenance includes all work required to maintain the road in a serviceable condition year round and may include snow removal, grading, ditch and culvert and bridge repair and brush clearing. Cost recovery facilitation under this policy is not available for the construction or capital improvement of private roads.
The municipality will not be involved in the provision of engineering, technical or legal services or advice in respect of the private road maintenance. Involvement will be limited to the administration of the area flat rate. This policy applies only to applications for private road maintenance costs recovery facilitation made under this policy. Private road maintenance programs implemented prior to the adoption of this policy by HRM shall continue in effect unmodified.
Repayment. Pursuant to section 104 of the HRM Charter, the municipality has the authority to make by-laws imposing, fixing and providing methods of enforcement of charges for maintaining private roads, curbs, sidewalks, gutters, bridges, culverts and retaining walls that are associated with private roads where the cost is incurred under an agreement between the municipality and a person. In particular subsection 104(3) of the HRM Charter provides that the charges may be determined pursuant to the plan or method set out in the implementing by-law.
Eligibility. A private road eligible for improvement or maintenance financing under this policy shall include any road that is not public and that provides perpetual direct or indirect access to a public road or highway for at least two properties each of which contains a principal residence. The private road includes the portion of the road and right of way which is not used for vehicle traffic and is available for installation of services or is shoulder, ditch or buffer. If the documentation creating the private road access does not permit the property owners to implement the maintenance work then the legal owner(s) of the property on which the private road is situate must consent in writing to the maintenance of the road.
Petition. An application for private road maintenance financing assistance under this policy shall be commenced by presenting a petition to the HRM council. Collectively those signing the petition shall be the applicant for the private road maintenance funding. The presented petition shall be signed by property owners comprising at least two- thirds (66.7%) of both the principal residences and the road frontage on that portion of the private road for which the application is made. The petition shall set out the area to be subject to the application and the nature of the road maintenance proposed, the requested method of area flat rate determination (in conformity with this policy) and the projected annual area flat rate. Upon acceptance of the Petition a municipal staff co-ordinator will be assigned to assist the applicant in processing the application.
Meeting of Property Owners. Subsequent to HRM acceptance of the petition an applicant shall call a meeting of the subject property owners. Not less than fourteen (14) days prior to the date of the meeting, notice of the meeting shall be posted in three (3) conspicuous places in the area to which the rate is to be applied. Notice of the meeting shall also be made not less than fourteen (14) days prior to the date of the meeting to all property owners that will be affected by the area rate through prepaid mail to their tax assessment addresses The notice of the public meeting shall set out the date and time and place of the meeting, the name(s) of the applicant, describe the area to be subject to the application and the nature of the road maintenance proposed, the requested method of area flat rate determination (in conformity with this policy), the road maintenance plan and amount of the area flat rate to be requested in the application, and advise that rate payers will be entitled to vote and the method of voting. The mail notice shall contain regular postage pre-stamped self return envelopes, proxy forms and ballots approved to form by the municipal staff co-ordinator.
Notwithstanding section 6, the requirement for a meeting of the property owners may be waived where Council determines it is not in the best interest of the residents or it is unreasonable to hold such a meeting.
If the public meeting requirement is waived by Council, an applicant shall post notice in three (3) conspicuous places in the area to which the rate is to be applied. Notice shall also be provided to all property owners that will be affected by the area rate through prepaid mail to their tax assessment addresses. The notices must contain the name(s) of the applicant, describe the area to be subject to the application and the nature of the road maintenance proposed, the requested method of area flat rate determination (in conformity with this policy), the road maintenance plan and amount of the area flat rate to be requested in the application, and advise that rate payers will be entitled to vote, the date of the voting and the method of voting. In addition, the notice must provide the contact information for the applicant and the municipal staff co-ordinator so that property owners can seek clarification or provide feedback regarding the proposed area flat rate or the nature of the road maintenance proposed. The report to Regional Council recommending the area flat rate must seek Council approval in the recommendation for the waiver of the meeting, and the reasons for request of the waiver must be clearly explained in the report.
Support. The meeting, if the requirement has not been waived by Council, shall be conducted by the applicant under the supervision of the municipal staff co-ordinator and the applicant shall have a register in which those rate payers attending the meeting may place their names and addresses. Prior to a vote being called, the applicant shall make a presentation to the meeting setting out the reasons and proposed purposes for the use of the area rate fund and the amount of the flat rate. The support for the proposed area flat rate shall be the owners of at least two-thirds (66.7%) of the affected properties. Mail in ballots and proxy voting shall be allowed by property owners not in attendance at the public meeting.
Application. Upon receipt of an application, Halifax Regional Council will consider the establishment of an area flat rate in accordance with the provisions of this policy. The application for the establishment of an area flat rate shall define the proposed area to which the flat rate is to apply with sufficient clarity to allow for proper implementation of the flat rate for billing purposes. The area shall be defined by resolution at Council at the time of setting of the area flat rate. An application shall include a budget in support of the proposed area flat rate, a definition of the area to which the rate shall apply, a declaration setting out the fulfilment of the public notice and public meeting process required under the policy.
Area Flat Rate. Pursuant to this policy Halifax Regional Council will establish an area flat rate for private road maintenance services to be applied on a per dwelling unit service or adjoining property basis. It is the responsibility of the applicant to determine the method of calculating the area flat rate and to have that stated in the application.
Property Owner’s Association. Upon Halifax Regional Council establishing an area the Applicant shall form, under the Societies Act, an incorporated association of the owners of the subject properties. All subject property owners will be eligible for membership in the association. the municipality will enter into an agreement with the association under which the association shall accept responsibility for the implementing and administration of the maintenance services on the private road. Payment of the area rates collected will be made only to the association. All work performed under private road policy financing arrangements will be under the control and direction of property owner’s association and the association shall be wholly responsible for the application of the funds provided.
Meetings of the Association. The Property Owner’s Association shall have an annual general meeting prior to the end of September in each year, at which meeting the majority of a quorum present shall review and approve the road maintenance plan and budget for the following year. The municipality will review the plan and budget to ensure it complies with the purpose of the area flat rate and that sufficient funding can be raised through the area flat rate to fund it. Any changes to the amount of the flat rate shall require majority approval at a special meeting of the Property’s Owner’s Association called for the purpose of determining the rate increase issue. Notice of the special meeting shall conform to the standards set out above for the application meeting. All proposed area flat rate increases are subject to HRM approval. The Property’s Owner’s Association may also by special meeting elect to terminate the financial assistance agreement with the municipality and upon the termination of the agreement the area flat rate will discontinue.
Charge to be Lien. A charge imposed under this policy constitutes a lien on subject properties in the same manner and with the same effect as rates and taxes under the Assessment Act, and is collectable in the same manner as rates and taxes under this Assessment Act. The lien becomes effective on the completion of the payment of money out of Halifax Regional Finance. Interest shall accrue on charges outstanding from the date of billing forward at rate equal to the prime rate of the banker plus two percentage points.
Installments. The amount payable as an area charge will be invoiced as installments in two billings during the year on the regular property tax bills.
Administration Charges. Pursuant to section 102 of the HRM Charter a charge shall be imposed by HRM for the provision and administration of private road maintenance costs recovery under this policy, which includes, inter alias, billing, collecting and forwarding the area rate funds. The administration fee shall be a set up charge of $200.00 for each area rate. Applicants should include this fee in their budget calculation in area rate submissions. This administrative charge shall form part of project funding subject to lien and is collectable together with interest as provided for herein.
By-Law P-1100 Respecting Charges for Private Road Maintenance [PDF]
For further information, please contact:
Senior Financial Consultant