FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 12, 2018
K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Our HRM Alliance is calling on Halifax Regional Council to take swift action to stop urban sprawl following a new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The CMHC Report, released in January, shows that single family home construction in 2017 surged to its highest level since 2012. According to the data, these homes are almost all being built far from existing communities and amenities, which we know will only add more traffic to our busy roads and further encroach on our intact natural areas.
Our HRM Alliance is concerned that this will increase congestion on our roads, make it harder to provide useful transit service, and continue to push our property taxes higher.
Jenny Lugar, Our HRM Alliance Coordinator, says every time a house is built on a new road, existing taxpayers must pay to maintain the road, sewers, garbage collection, and other municipal services.
“In order to better allocate our current tax revenue and to build communities that offer more than just homes and driveways, we need to make it easier for developers to build family-appropriate housing in existing built-up areas,” Lugar says.
Our HRM Alliance wants to see townhouses and family-sized apartments, with commercial areas interspersed, built on main streets like Herring Cove Road in Spryfield, in areas along the Bedford Highway, and many other places that stand to be the heart of communities where we already have amenities to offer new residents.
“By concentrating development, we can add people without adding costs,” says Lugar.
A 2013 report from Stantec showed that concentrating development where we already have service would save us $3 billion by 2031, but no action has been taken yet to stop sprawl.
With the Centre Plan coming to a close, the Alliance is calling for clear commitments from council. They want to see a moratorium on all new construction in the corridors identified within the draft Green Network Plan, and an accelerated planning process similar to the Centre Plan to modernize the planning rules on our suburban main streets to make it easy to build modest-density buildings that will make our suburban communities more vibrant and people-oriented.
“Halifax’s land use bylaws are horribly out of date,” adds Lugar. “We need new rules, and we need them quickly, so that Halifax’s record growth is directed to existing built up areas, avoiding billions in tax increases over the next fifteen years.”
The Alliance believes there is lots of room to grow within existing developments. A 2015 report from O2 Planning+Design showed that Halifax’s built-up area has almost doubled since 1992, but our population has only grown by 19%.
“There is lots of room to add housing within the existing serviced area. The sooner Council takes action to stop sprawl, the sooner we can get to work reinvigorating our suburban communities and putting our taxes towards services our existing communities really need,” says Lugar.
Our HRM Alliance is made up of 59 groups from across the Halifax Regional Municipality advocating for a sustainable and prosperous future, accomplished through measures such as a greenbelt and complete communities.
– 30 –
For further information, please contact:
Our HRM Alliance Coordinator