MI’KMA’KI (NOVA SCOTIA)
On Wednesday, the Nova Scotia government announced details on its new housing strategy. The Ecology Action Centre applauds several aspects of the announcement but raises concerns about proposed task forces to expediate large residential developments and create a Master Transportation Plan for the Halifax Regional Municipality.
“Although there is much to be celebrated in the new housing strategy, our concerns are around how the proposed task forces will operate and who will be included in their decision-making process,” says Kortney Dunsby, sustainable cities coordinator with the EAC. “Many questions remain: Will they strip Halifax Regional Municipality of its power to plan? What does expedited development mean for the future of protected areas?"
Increasing supply is crucial to addressing the housing crisis, but it’s important that the provincial government is strategic about how and where they distribute this growth and ensure meaningful consultation with traditionally underserved groups like seniors, newcomers and rural communities so that the varying needs of each are reflected in plans.
The EAC is also concerned about development threats to areas identified in the Halifax Green Network Plan as critical for protection—including Sandy Lake, The Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area and the Purcell’s Cove Backlands—and how new plans for development and transportation will affect existing progress.
“The EAC supports many of the existing plans to address growth and transportation issues, including HRM’s Centre Plan, the Integrated Mobility Plan and the Green Network Plan,” says Dunsby. “We want to make sure that years of work aren’t lost.”
Overall, Dunsby says the EAC is happy to hear concrete solutions to address the housing crisis, like the extension of the two percent rent increase cap, the commitment to build 1,100 new affordable housing units and amendments to the Halifax Charter to allow for inclusionary zoning. EAC also wants to acknowledge groups like Acorn NS, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Halifax Mutual Aid and Out of the Cold for fighting hard on these issues.
“We celebrate the introduction of new funding and policy to address the housing crisis in Mi’kma’ki, but we also want to ensure that while building with haste, we do not perpetuate other problems like urban sprawl, gentrification, and the biodiversity and climate crises. Development patterns that foster healthy and complete communities need to be prioritized.”