Growing our Community:
Decisions made at City Hall determine how our city grows and what gets built in our neighbourhoods. We need to encourage more development in the urban core. Allowing too much low-density development out on the edge of the city has hurt all of us. Urban sprawl destroys wilderness, causes traffic congestion, drives up taxes, undermines Downtown and diminishes our quality of life. Curtailing sprawl and encouraging development in the urban core is in our collective interest, but residents in the city often object to projects in their neighbourhoods. How do we manage this conflict?
A big part of the problem is our planning process is adversarial, produces inconsistent results and lacks community buy in. It’s no wonder people are suspicious when the quality and design of buildings can vary so significantly from one project to the next and when most of our plans are decades out of date.
We can do better. We can have well-planned new development that complements our existing neighbourhoods. What we need are good plans that are supported by the community as a whole.
• Clear and consistent rules that are upheld by council, providing both developers and residents with certainty and clear expectations (Centre Plan)
• Community planning to give people a voice in the future of their neighbourhood
• Encourage a cooperative approach to development that invites public feedback on projects early in the process
• Recover the true cost of providing services to new development. Growth should pay for itself, not burden existing taxpayers
• Lobby the province for stronger powers to protect heritage buildings. Buildings like Bethany House and Maritime Trust shouldn’t be demolished.
• Protect the rural landscape and natural environment with a greenbelt around the urban area (Green Network Plan)
As cities grow, it’s people struggling on the margins who often find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. This is true for many residents in HRM. Data collected in 2011 indicates that 37.9% of residents in the Regional Centre (Halifax Peninsula and Dartmouth inside the Circumferential) spend more than 30% of their income on housing. This is particularly true for vulnerable groups including seniors, single parents, new immigrants, people with disabilities, aboriginals and young people.
Everyone should have an affordable place to live. Finding something affordable also shouldn’t mean accepting substandard conditions. The Province manages social services, but HRM’s control over planning gives the municipality an important role to play in housing. We can create more housing that is affordable and that lets people live with dignity.
• Require affordable housing in large projects (inclusive zoning)
• Allow developers and non-profits to build extra apartments in exchange for making some of them affordable (density bonusing)
• Give projects that include affordable housing priority in the planning process
• Allow more secondary suites to increase the supply and variety of housing without changing the look or feel of existing neighbourhoods
• Explore options with the Province to ensure that financing does not become a barrier for non-profits. Projects like Gottingen Terrace shouldn’t fail because of financing
• Support the housing first initiative that aims to end homelessness in HRM by 2019. It’s an approach that has worked in other cities (Medicine Hat), improves lives and even saves money
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