Sidewalks in Rural Community Centres

Example: community centre with sidewalk (Source: Musquodoboit Harbour Community Development Plan)

Example: community centre with sidewalk (Source: Musquodoboit Harbour Community Development Plan)

HRM’s new Rural Active Transportation Program was approved by Regional Council on February 8, 2022, following recommendations from the Integrated Mobility Plan and AT Priorities Plan. The Program has three elements:

  1. Sidewalks in rural community centres
  2. Development of walking and bicycling spines between rural communities and,
  3. Continued support for community-led multi-use pathway construction, operation, and maintenance in rural areas through HRM’s Active Transportation Grant Program.

The priority under the program is the construction of sidewalks or multi-use pathways (wider paved pathways for both walking and bicycling) in rural communities to provide safer places for people to walk and support overall community development.  The goal is to add sidewalks or multi-use pathways in at least five rural communities centres by 2032.

Implementation steps include:

  1. Prioritization of candidate rural communities based on criteria such as population, safety, and number of local destinations. 
  2. Stakeholders' and public engagement and then Regional Council consideration of an area rate and area rate boundary in communities prioritized for new sidewalks. The area rates in communities receiving a sidewalk will have a tax rate increase which will represent the difference between the urban and rural residential general tax rates ($33 per $100,000 of property value assessment). See Process for Community Area Rate for New Sidewalks in Community Centres below. 
  3. Planning and consultation in communities to determine the location of new sidewalks in priority communities where the area rate has been pre-approved by Regional Council.
  4. Securing  budget, detailed design, construction, and then ongoing maintenance.

Candidate Rural Communities for Sidewalks

Halifax Regional Council approved on February 7, 2023 a list of 17 new Candidate Rural Communities and the updated map of Candidate Rural Communities and Spines to the Active Transportation Priorities Plan. 

The 17 communities identified were:

Map displaying location of the 17 candidate rural communities and connecting spines
  • Cow Bay 
  • Dutch Settlement 
  • East Preston*
  • Hatchet Lake/Brookside
  • Hammonds Plains
  • Hubbards
  • Hubley
  • Lake Echo
  • Lucasville
  • Middle Musquodoboit
  • Musquodoboit Harbour
  • Porters Lake
  • Sambro
  • Sheet Harbour**
  • Upper Tantallon
  • Wellington
  • Windsor Junction 

East Preston area rate was approved by Regional Council on June 15, 2023 . Construction is scheduled for 2024

** Sheet Harbour has already implemented a sidewalk program through a community led process 

These communities are areas with concentrated land uses such as small towns, villages, or any area with a concentration of people living, working, shopping, playing, and learning. The goal is to provide better connections for shorter trips to common destinations within a given area. It is in these clusters of activity, where an all ages and abilities type of facility may serve a latent demand for walking, rolling, or cycling due to a combination of reasonable travel distances, higher traffic volumes and speeds, and a lack of AT infrastructure. The goal is to focus investment on the main street.

The following candidate communities (listed in alphabetical order) were prioritized by applying criteria approved by Regional Council and are further being assessed for implementation of an area rate to fund new sidewalks. 

Porters Lake

Porters Lake Community Overview (PDF)

Porters Lake Area Tax Rate Community Boundary Map (PDF)

Porters Lake Schools Catchment Boundary Map (PDF)

Porters Lake Travel Patterns Map (PDF)

Active Transportation Plan: Porters Lake & Surrounding Communities - SATA Trails Society

Porters Lake Infrastructure Improvement Plan - PLBA

Musquodoboit Harbour

Musquodoboit Harbour Community Overview (PDF)

Musquodoboit Harbour Tax Area Rate Boundary Map (PDF)

Musquodoboit Harbour Schools Catchment Area Map  (PDF)

Musquodoboit Harbour Travel Patterns (PDF)

Musquodoboit Harbour Community Development Plan Regional Council Report Nov 2023

Musquodoboit Harbour Community Development Plan - MHACCCA

Musquodoboit Harbour Approved Action Plan Summary Report

Musquodoboit  Harbour Vison & Request for Secondary Planning

Musquodoboit Harbour Community Visioning and Strategic Action Plan

Hubbards

Hubbards Community Overview

Hubbards Community Plan - Hubbards Streetscape Project

Hubbards - Preliminary Area Rate Boundary Map for Community Feedback

Hubbards- English Schools Catchment Area Map

Hubbards- Travel Patterns Data Map

Upper Tantallon

Upper Tantallon is recognized within the Tantallon Crossroads Coastal Village Map in the Municipal Regional Plan - Planning Districts 1 and 3 (St. Margarets Bay) Plan Area

To retain and enhance the character of the Tantallon Crossroads area as a coastal village, the St. Margarets Bay Stewardship Association and HRM worked together to undertake community consultation in order to map out a vision for the area. The result of this initiative was that the community envisages the area as a centre with a mix of commercial, residential, and community uses forming a continuous streetscape of facades that encourage walking and socializing in designated spaces such as sidewalks or multi-use pathways. 

Lucasville

Lucasville Active Transportation Plan - Lucasville Greenway Society

Public engagement will take place in all five communities prioritized starting in January 2024. 

Property owners within the proposed area rate boundary will be notified with addressed mail when their community is being assessed for implementation of an area rate to fund a sidewalk in their own community or a community nearby.

Property owners living in communities being assessed can provide feedback related to the assessment of their community and tax implications by filling out an online survey and/or by attending an in-person session. Paper surveys are also available by request at martinem@halifax.ca or by calling 902-490-4920. 

Please follow the link below to access the public engagement site and online survey for your community.  

Sidewalks and Multi- Use Pathways in Rural Community Centres Public Engagement site

Staff will seek Community and Regional Councils approval of the area rate and area rate boundary using the information gathered during public engagement.

The following set of criteria was developed to help staff create the list of the seventeen communities to be selected for prioritization for implementation:

  • Land Use Planning
  • Destinations
  • Existing Infrastructure
  • Population Density
  • Canadian Index of Multiple Deprivation
  • Traffic Data
  • Community Input Data
  • Usership  Data

Further criteria approved by Regional Council was applied to prioritize five communities which are now being assessed for implementation of an area rate to fund new sidewalks. 

  • Create Connections: Opportunity to connect to local active transportation facilities, and/or regional facilities or transit.
  • Improve Safety: Relatively high number of vehicles use the main street daily.
  • Foster Equity: Relatively high score on the Canadian Index of Multiple Deprivation (CIMD).
  • Community Momentum: Community has an AT Plan (or community plan that addresses AT), and an active and engaged community group.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Opportunity to integrate project with other projects, and/or receive funding or cost sharing from other levels of government.
  • Economic Opportunity: Community has a “mainstreet” area.
  • Shift Mode Share: Relatively high number of residents already walking or cycling in the community daily.

Area Rate

On February 7, 2023 the Regional Council adopted the Administrative Order Number 2022-008-ADM Respecting the Implementation of Area Rates to Fund Sidewalks Outside of the Urban Tax Area in the Halifax Regional Municipality to direct the implementation of the AT Rural Program. 
The AO 2022-008-ADM outlines how communities become eligible for an area-rated sidewalk, the amount of area rate to be applied to each property, permitted and prohibited uses of area rate revenue, how staff will engage and communicate with the community throughout the implementation process, and the decision-making process for enacting the new rate. 

The AO 2022-008-ADM establishes the area rate, a formal process for the implementation of area rates and the method to determine area rate geographic boundaries. 

The area rates in communities receiving a sidewalk will have an area tax rate added to their property taxes which will represent the difference between the urban and rural residential general tax rates ($33 per $100,000 of taxable (capped) property value assessment). 
The table below outlines some examples of what a property owner could expect to pay annually based on the assessed property value.

Example of Area Rate Amount Applied Based on Assessed Property Value:

Examples of Property taxes increases based on the calculation of an Area Rate of $33.00 per $100,000 of Assessed Property Value:

Taxable (Capped) Assessed Property Value Estimated Area Rate Applied to Property Bill Annually
Taxable (Capped) Assessed Property Value Estimated Area Rate Applied to Property Bill Annually
$100 - $100,000 $0.033 -$33
$100,000 - $200,000 $33 - $66
$200,000 -$300,000 $66 - $99
$300,000 - $400,000 $99 - $132
$400,000 - $500,000 $132 - $165
$500,000 - $1,000,000 $165 - $333
$1,000,000 -$2,000,000 $333 -$666

Area rate increases would be applied to all residential, resource and commercial properties located in the community boundary of the candidate rural community approved by Regional Council in the fiscal year following substantial completion of the infrastructure. 

Access more information on the HRM Tax Policy.

Community Area Rate Boundary

The AO 2022-008-ADM specifies that the boundary for the area rate will be the community area, but that it could extend into neighbouring rural communities if they are deemed to benefit from the implementation of the sidewalk.  The inclusion of neighbouring communities would be considered in cases, for example, if the destinations in the community with the sidewalk were used by residents from other communities (e.g., large grocery stores, regional public services, schools, etc.). Regional Council will approve the final community boundary.

The Administrative Order identifies criteria to consider when extending the area rate boundary outside of the community boundary.  The criteria and how they are to be considered are described below.

  • Community and stakeholder engagement: Members in the community can review proposed community boundaries and express their support or voice their concerns during online/ paper surveys and in-person meetings. 
  • Travel patterns as determined by travel monitoring data: This criterion is intended to help understand if areas outside of the community boundary would benefit from the new sidewalk or multi-use pathway.  This would most likely be in rural communities with destinations such as shopping or services.  
  • School catchment boundaries: This is a factor in determining the boundary as some of the main streets are connectors to schools and facilities used by schools. 
  • Concentration and use of community amenities: The destinations on the Main Streets are used by residents living within the community area boundaries identified.

These criteria allow staff to use a combination of feedback from rural residents and stakeholders, and data analysis to create area rate boundaries specific to each rural candidate community prioritized to receive a sidewalk. The boundary is at minimum including the official community boundary where the sidewalk is being constructed but it could be expanded to include nearby communities if they are deemed to benefit from the addition of the AT facilities as well.

This phase of the project is scheduled to start after Regional Council approves the staff report recommending the rural communities prioritized for new sidewalk infrastructure. 

Planning in each community will help determine the extent of the sidewalk, the type, amenities and other features. During this phase residents and property owners will have an opportunity to provide feedback during public engagement sessions in their respective communities.

Upon completion of planning and consultation in communities to determine the location and type of new sidewalks, the projects will undergo detail design, capital budget submission for construction projects along with cost sharing opportunities, and tendering. 

The goal is to complete construction of the five new sidewalks approved in the rural centres by 2032.