News / Halifax

Finish line in sight for Halifax's Centre Plan as approval process begins

Urban design program manager Jacob Ritchie presented the latest draft of the comprehensive development plan for Halifax and Dartmouth on Wednesday.

The regional centre of Halifax Regional Municipality, the area to which the Centre Plan hopes to direct growth.

Contributed/HRM

The regional centre of Halifax Regional Municipality, the area to which the Centre Plan hopes to direct growth.

The finish line is in sight for the long-awaited Centre Plan after a meeting Wednesday to start the process of approving the comprehensive development plan for Halifax and Dartmouth.

Halifax Regional Municipality urban design program manager and the man at the helm of the Centre Plan, Jacob Ritchie presented the latest draft to the Community Design Advisory Committee, and outlined the next steps in the approval process.

The overarching goal of the plan is to have 40 per cent of new housing in the municipality built in the regional centre – peninsular Halifax and Dartmouth within the circumferential highway – allowing for 33,000 new residents by 2031.

“We really recognize how ambitious that is,” Ritchie said during his presentation. “It let’s us achieve economics in not servicing new areas that we can’t afford, but it also fills in so many of those vacant lots and parking lots that we walk by in our downtowns and corridors every day.”

Ritchie’s economic argument for the kind of density called for in the plan is the difference in the cost of providing services, which he puts at an average of $1,416 per urban household, and $3,462 per suburban household.

The 170-page document breaks the regional centre down into categories, assigning different building size and design requirements.

Ritchie and his team have spent the past two years building the plan, consulting extensively with the public in a series of meetings and talking to developers.

“We’re not just saying, ‘We know best.’ We’re actually trying to get input and a lot of input was given,” Coun. Lindell Smith said in an interview at the meeting.

Smith said he hopes the work that went into the plan will stop councillors from granting exceptions to it once its complete, as council often does with the current land-use bylaws.

“I feel confident that the majority is going to want to actually live by what is created here because so much of our resources went into creating this,” he said. “For us not to go by it is kind of doing a disservice to everybody.”

The committee will vote on a recommendation for the plan for the municipality’s Community Planning and Economic Development Committee, which will then make a recommendation to regional council. It’s expected to be fully approved in early 2018.

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