Sean Fraser says he’d like to approve HRM’s application under the Housing Accelerator Fund, but he needs the municipality to beef up its proposal.

As the Halifax Examiner reported on Tuesday, Halifax applied in June for more than $70 million in federal funding to boost the city’s housing supply over the next three years through 11 initiatives. Those include faster permitting; easier residential conversions; and more development along future rapid transit corridors.

The municipality was still waiting on a response after the federal government struck a deal with London, Ont. last week, to much fanfare.

The municipality got its answer on Thursday, and it wasn’t the one it was looking for.

Fraser wants more density, height

In a letter to Mayor Mike Savage, shared with the Examiner Thursday night, Fraser, the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities and MP for Central Nova, said he needs the municipality to make four changes.

“Upon reviewing your application in detail, there were a number of initiatives which I was pleased to see,” Fraser wrote.

“However, there are a few changes I request that you consider in order to strengthen it. These include:

  • Legalizing 4 units as-of-right city wide;
  • Legalizing dwellings up to 4-storeys high for all residential areas in the Centre Plan;
  • Creating a non-market affordable housing strategy with staff dedicated to it; and
  • Increasing density and student rentals within walking distance of the City’s first rate post-secondary institutions.”

In an interview with the Examiner earlier this week, Savage said the municipality’s draft regional plan would legalize three units as-of-right across HRM. He suggested that plan was “ahead of the game.”

Height capped at three storeys in most urban areas

The Centre Plan, governing peninsular Halifax and Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway, caps building heights at 11 metres, or about three storeys, in so-called established residential areas. Those zones make up most of the area, including around the municipality’s “first rate post-secondary institutions.”

“I am eager to approve Halifax’s application, but I will not be able to do so before you consider these improvements,” Fraser wrote.

“I will remain a steadfast ally of the City and of any municipality ready to lead with the level of ambition required to solve Canada’s housing crisis.”

Halifax regional council has a meeting set for Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 1pm.

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. HRM should have anticipated these requests (just have to read the news) after seeing the situation play out in Calgary, not all same conditions but feds want to build more on existing lots & build up not out in existing residential zones. Just think you could cut tax rates for residential taxpayers as you have more properties/taxpayers to collect dollars from! You are either in or out, why do you need until the end of 2023? Think about it you are either part of the solution or part of the problem. Calgary got it done in less time ( Frasers’ letter Sept 14/23 decision Sept.17/23). We know Nova Scotians are smarter than the rest of Canadians, just not sure that applies to our politicians.

  2. In the city’s rush to create new housing, much of the focus seems to be along the waterfront ( think the Cogswell Interchange) , which is putting more people in harm’s way from climate change and which is not affordable. There is also an emphasis on building in areas (like just north of Cogswell) where food stores, dollar stores and the like are at least a 20-30 minute walk involving slopes and are not readily accessible by mass transit.

  3. “… within walking distance of the City’s first rate post-secondary institutions.” Who will decide which institutions are first rate and which are second or third rate? 😉