Affordable housing is an environmental issue. Have your say on HRM’s “Centre Plan Package B” | Ecology Action Centre

Affordable housing is an environmental issue. Have your say on HRM’s “Centre Plan Package B”

Healthy, sustainable urban communities are rooted in the principles of building compact accessible living that’s close to amenities, linked to public transportation networks and mindful of natural ecosystems. HRM is experiencing urban sprawl, often at odds with these principles.

Between 1992 and 2014, the city’s population has increased by 19%.

During the same time, the urban/suburban area land coverage increased 92%. That’s urban sprawl spiraling out of control.

HRM’s urban core (Halifax peninsula and downtown Dartmouth) is home to over 25% of the region’s population. In HRM, sprawling development has become more affordable than the denser downtown core which has presented problems for renters and home buyers alike. The result is further development outside the core, which creates significant strain on wildlife habitats and watersheds.

Read more 


Secondary and backyard suites being proposed

Between sprawl and density is there an answer? Secondary and backyard suites may provide a partial solution. HRM is looking at this question and engaging citizens on land use and its “Centre Plan” via its engagement portal “Shape Your City” 

Secondary suites are small, additions to a home within regulated size and design guidelines. Backyard suites are small stand-alone units in a home’s backyard.



What’s being considered:

  • Secondary and backyard suites are being proposed in a number of residential core zones [link to map]
  • Bylaw will dictate where using tools such as maximum unit count, street access, maximum lot coverage
  • Lots with one-unit, two-unit, townhouse or semi-detached housing would be considered if lot sizes allow
  • Lots zoned D, CEN-2, CEN-1, COR, HR-2  (secondary suites), and HR-1, ER-3, ER-2, ER-1 zones [link to zoning map] are under consideration
  • Lots will be able to have either a secondary or backyard suite - not both
  • Lots allowed under bylaw still require approval based on conditions like existing structures, service hookup locations, slope, and development agreements



Social and environmental benefits

  1. Gentle density and maintaining community character

  • By providing housing opportunities that curb the appetite to demolish existing neighbourhoods in order to achieve greater density


  1. More diverse, age-friendly and affordable housing options

  • Options for residents to age-in-place, live semi-independently with family, and develop more accessible living space easily on their own property
  • Increase rental stock, helping alleviate the local housing crisis
  • Options for homeowners to supplement their cost of living


  1. Protect ecosystems and decrease costs through making better use of urban areas

  • Curb the need for development projects that sprawl into Halifax’s treasured and important green spaces that surrounds our city
  • Reduce the cost of maintaining expensive suburban development infrastructure which falls on taxpayers
  • Allow residents to live closer to work, play, and everyday needs by reducing commuter emissions and benefiting wellbeing


The Ecology Action Centre supports Secondary and Backyard Suites

Have your say.

  1. Let Decision Makers know that you care about secondary and backyard suites: Take Halifax’s Centre Plan ‘Shape Your City’ survey or email [] to support secondary and backyard suites. The survey is only open until August 31st.

  2. Sign-up for the EAC’s Centre Plan Package B mailing list to stay up-to-date on how you can support this issue.

  3. Share the facts with your community by sending friends a link to this page.

Resources and information on Secondary and Backyard Suites were developed by the EAC’s Urban Development Advocacy Team.