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N.S. designates 9 areas in HRM for 22,000 residential units as housing crisis hits all-time high


The Halifax Regional Municipality will soon be home to as many as 22,600 new residential units after Nova Scotia's housing minister designated nine special planning areas for development.

John Lohr says housing shortages are a major challenge for Nova Scotians across the province – especially in the Halifax region – and now is the time to act.

The province estimates the current housing deficit in the Halifax region to be at least 17,000 units and growing.

"These nine special planning areas could offer a significant number of new homes for people in the region and save months, even years, in approval time," said the housing minister in a news release Friday.

"Some of these, in fact, in reality will be high-end homes," said Lohr. "But the reality is this is conditional on negotiations with the developer, so there could be an affordable housing component to some of these."

Halifax's mayor says he is pleased the special areas are within communities designated for growth through the municipal regional planning process.

"And that there are a number of other measures through which the Province of Nova Scotia is supporting Halifax Regional Municipality in providing solutions to the housing crisis," said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the housing announcement is still not enough.

"The total that are guaranteed for affordability is none. Something that might happen -- that's not good enough," said Burrill. "That doesn’t address the real situation, the real composition of the crisis that we’re in."

Some housing advocates also agree that more needs to be done.

"They did not give any consideration to affordable housing and the people that really need it," said Lisa Hayhurst, a co-chair with Nova Scotia ACORN Dartmouth chapter.

Lorelei Nicoll, a Nova Scotia Liberal MLA, said the announcement doesn't address housing issues for the rest of the province.

"As someone who is from Richmond County, I would like to have seen how we’re going to attract people to other parts of the province," she said.

The projects will be subject to required permits, fees and regulatory requirements, as specified within the housing legislation.

The special planning areas are:

  • former Penhorn Mall lands - 950 units
  • Southdale/Mount Hope - 1,200 units
  • Bedford West 10 - 1,300 units
  • Bedford West 1 and 12 - 2,500 units
  • Port Wallace - up to 4,900 units
  • Indigo Shores - 150 building lots
  • Morris Lake expansion - 3,100 units
  • Dartmouth Crossing - 2,500 units
  • Sandy Lake - 6,000 units

Nova Scotia is also providing $2.3 million in funding to enable the municipality to conduct environmental, land-use suitability, transportation and infrastructure studies to inform future planning and development decisions.

A call for an independent third-party review of the barriers to housing development also closed on Tuesday.

The HRM Housing Task Force was appointed on Nov. 25, 2021. Since December 2021, the group has met with 31 developers, industry representatives and community agencies. So far, 41 potential developments have been brought before the task force for consideration.

"We've been absolutely laser-focused on finding solutions to add more housing in the Halifax region so all residents have a place to call home," said Geoff MacLellan, chair of the HRM Housing Task Force.

More information on the special planning areas can be found on the province's website. Top Stories

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