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Homes, parks next in Halifax’s plan for the future

Draft of Centre Plan's next phase expected in February

2 min read
caption The community design advisory committee plays a key role in advising regional council on the Centre Plan.
Amy Brierley

For people living in the urban core of Halifax and Dartmouth, the new year will bring a chance to shape the next phase of a long awaited plan to guide development in the city.

Wednesday, staff in the Halifax Regional Municipality’s planning and development department presented the engagement plan and timeline for Centre Plan’s Package B to the community design advisory committee.

Package B will establish planning policies and bylaws for residential, industrial and institutional areas, as well as parks and open spaces in the centres of Halifax and Dartmouth.

Kasia Tota, principal planner with HRM, said that, among other policies, Package B will determine guidelines for what can be built on residential lots, how tall residences can be, and the addition of secondary or backyard suites.

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“In general, we do want to protect neighbourhoods, and it’s not one size fits all,” said Tota.

In 2017, council decided the Centre Plan would be addressed in stages because of its complexity. This September, Package A of the plan was passed unanimously by regional council.

Once completed, the Centre Plan will serve as a blueprint for development in the centre of Halifax and Dartmouth — the areas of the municipality expected to grow the most in the coming years. The plan aims to encourage growth without sacrificing the things that are important to neighbourhoods and communities.

The Centre Plan has been in the works since 2015.

Coun. Lindell Smith said he welcomes the short timeline proposed for Package B. For as long as the plan is up in the air, Smith said, people will be left wondering what it means for affordability and availability of housing.

“With Package A, it was delayed in when we expected it to come,” said Smith. “With Package B, because it deals with a lot of residential and institutional [areas], which we know that there’s going to be huge developments coming down the line, this is super important that what we do is timely, so we know what to expect.”

He said Package B must work with parts of Package A that deal with affordable housing so that as guidelines for residential areas evolve, people aren’t pushed out of their neighbourhoods.

The draft of Package B is scheduled to be released in February. Then, HRM’s planning and development team will gather input on the draft online, through social media, community meetings and pop-up engagements across Halifax and Dartmouth.

The final Centre Plan, complete with Package B, is projected to be ready in under a year, with a public hearing on the full plan expected in September 2020.

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About the author

Amy Brierley

Amy is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She calls Antigonish N.S.--and more recently, Halifax-- home. She cares a lot...

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  1. B

    Blair Beed

    Oh dear package b for bull. The idea that people are listened too with online comments and community engagement with round tables and cookies while being directed to projected outcomes is too sad. It is like a commune where everyone must live together overlooking or occupying others private space. Some of us in the city like a little peaceful backyard where the birds are heard not the neighbouring second suite with outside heatpumps rattling through day and night. None of it will generate affordable housing as long as the developers can have higher density with no rules in place to create and maintain affordable housing. Any thought of meaningful public engagement is just for show when the table is occupied by planners, developers, their staff and friends who will benefit from more development.
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