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.