The provincial government is making 37 properties available for new housing development, but there’s no specific affordability requirement.

The properties are scattered across Nova Scotia, with 10 in Halifax Regional Municipality. Housing Nova Scotia is issuing partnership opportunity notices, sort of like requests for proposals, for the properties. It’s starting with five properties in West Hants, Cumberland County and Queens County. The 37 properties include one on King Street in Dartmouth, for which Develop Nova Scotia solicited proposals earlier this year. Another 31 properties need more due diligence before they’ll be made available.

A slide deck in a PowerPoint presentation, with three maps shown. The words: Land for Housing Initiative, Five additional sites are being made available by DMAH for proposals, Sites 28, 29 & 30 – Tremain Street, Windsor (West Hants), Site 34 – Chapel, Mechanic & Elm Springhill (Cumberland County), Site 37 – Residential Lots Liverpool (Queens County).
A slide from the department’s presentation shows the properties ready to go now.

“We’ve been working on this for a number of months now, and we felt the urgency to get started on this, and get this out and put these these sites out,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr said during a news conference on Tuesday.

“They’ll all be a go, we think, and they’re all close, but they’re just not quite ready yet.”

The work is the result of Premier Tim Houston’s direction to Lohr in his mandate letter. Lohr’s department conducted an inventory of provincially-owned land that could be suitable for development, and now it’s working through the properties to make them available for new housing.

The government also announced Tuesday that the Dartmouth Non-Profit Housing Society has won the rights to construct an 18-unit affordable building at 1 Circassion Dr. in Dartmouth.

An architectural rendering shows a modern apartment building on a sunny day.
A rendering of the Dartmouth Non-Profit Housing Society’s plans for 1 Circassion Dr. in Dartmouth.

“Our non-profit organization is committed to constructing affordable housing for residents of Dartmouth,” Nick Russell, CEO of the Dartmouth Non-Profit Housing Society, said in a news release.

“The contribution of this site will help to ensure new affordable units remain affordable for the community for generations.”

The affordability of the rest of the sites is to-be-determined. Lohr said there’s no specific goal, or percentage of sites to be used for affordable housing. He said the government will use the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation definition of affordability — 80% of market rents in the area — but some could be less expensive.

“We’re evaluating each project separately and we’re doing our best to make it as affordable as possible,” Lohr said.

“Certainly we’d like to see many affordable housing projects come out of this, but the reality is we’re short supply across the whole.”

More information on the application process is available here, and the full list of sites, with maps here.

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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. This is so disheartening. People on low and fixed incomes should not have to pay more than 30% of their income on housing. The Province should be building and managing more public housing and not leaving it to the private sector.

  2. 80% of market rents in the area … sounds ominous with most rents going way up.

    We will likely need to redefine what affordable means.

    It’s good that the province is freeing up land for development, but it will take considerable time to get any units to the occupancy state.

    There is a housing shortage right now.

    1. Yeah, affordability really needs to be tied to something like Median income and not market rates. Because rapidly inflating market rates while median income stays flat is a huge part of the problem