Today, the Province of Nova Scotia announced amendments to the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter and the Housing in the Halifax Regional Municipality Act. These amendments have significant implications for the municipality, which will require time to assess.
“We should be working together on the housing crisis, advancing common goals,” says Mayor Mike Savage. “This proposed legislation is an incursion into municipal authority, undermining the public role in thoughtful, responsible planning that supports not only housing but community livability. These measures could undermine our ability to support affordable housing projects, risk our commitments to sustainability, and potentially limit access to municipal services while consolidating power in the office of the Minister”.
The lack of consultation prior to today’s announcement by the province is of significant concern. While some aspects of the legislation have the support of the municipality, there are several components that are problematic, including freezing all municipal permit and development fees, including those gathered through density bonusing. This will mean the municipality can’t continue to collect funding for the municipality’s Affordable Housing Grant program.
The measures announced today do not address the larger issues regarding development and affordable housing – which include high interest rates, lack of labour and supply chain issues.
Within Halifax, our rules allow for many new units to be built, immediately. The municipality has 11,000 units currently under permit as well as development-ready land over 200,000 units. This is the result of thoughtful planning, which includes zoning changes to allow units that can be built as-of-right.
The municipality remains committed to partnering with all orders of government to address the current housing crisis.
The Government of Canada announced today that Halifax will receive $79.3 million to fast track 2,600 housing units over the next three years under the Housing Accelerator Fund. This work will help spur the construction of over 8,866 homes over the next decade and eliminate barriers to housing.
Yesterday, the Province announced that it is building a tiny home community in collaboration with the municipality, the Shaw Group and Dexter Construction. The community will be built on surplus land in Lower Sackville (191 Cobequid Road, Lower Sackville) belonging to the municipality. The municipality is providing the land at no cost and will also provide custodial support such as property maintenance, solid waste collection and snow clearing.
Additionally, the Province announced more funding for supportive housing and shelter options in the Halifax Regional Municipality yesterday. In partnership with service providers and municipalities across Nova Scotia, the Province will invest $7.5 million in shelters produced by Pallet, a shelter provider. It will purchase 200 units to provide temporary housing across Nova Scotia, including 100 to be located in the municipality. The municipality is providing land, land servicing and preparation support, as well as operational oversight of the 100 units. Discussions regarding the location of the pallets are ongoing.