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HRM, Water Commission Support Temporary Moratorium on New Housing Projects

(Thursday, January 22/2004)-- Halifax Regional Municipality is imposing a three-month moratorium on approvals of new large-scale housing developments in most unserviced areas, it was announced today.

Halifax Regional Council requested the Province to issue a Ministerial Order to limit the number of new lots that can be developed in certain areas of the municipality for a three-month period. During that time, HRM will amend its planning by-laws to implement a longer-term temporary moratorium to remain in effect until after the new Regional Plan is adopted. Similar protection was in place during the last regional planning process for the metro-area in the mid-1970s.

"Past experience has shown that the municipality is likely to experience accelerated subdivision and building lot creation during the public process of developing a new Regional Plan for the area," Mayor Peter Kelly said. "As public debate of the various alternatives takes place, land developers may perceive their ability to develop land in the future will be restricted and may request development approvals now, which could cause growth management and infrastructure problems once the new plan is in place. The most effective way to reduce the risk of land speculation now is to adopt interim controls."

Mayor Kelly said public input on the new Regional Plan so far indicates that citizens feel strongly that HRM should be reducing development sprawl. Also, citizens recognize that this may mean changing current development rules in the municipality.

"The Regional Planning process is one of public consultation, because the final plan will determine how our municipality will grow and develop over the next 25 years. HRM has been seeking input from residents as to the type of community they want to see develop in the future, and Regional Council will set its priorities according to that vision. We don't want to see public debate on these issues overshadowed by undue development pressure." the Mayor said.

As a result of the Ministerial Order, residential development in most unserviced areas of HRM (i.e. lands located outside of the current water/sewer service boundaries, with the exception of the rural eastern section of HRM) will be tightly restricted. Only one residential permit will be issued for any newly subdivided area of land, approved after January 2004. Such parcels of land must have frontage on an existing approved roadway.

Areas of land exempted under the interim moratorium include:

  • existing approved lots
  • areas where HRM has entered into a contract specifically permitting certain types of development
  • where a subdivision agreement has been executed with respect to the construction and acceptance of any service system

The moratorium will not apply to any type of commercial, industrial or any other non-residential development. Also, it will not affect areas that can be developed on central water and sewer services.

There are approximately 25,000 acres of land throughout HRM owned now by companies with development interests and hundreds of thousands of acres held by forestry-related interests, which also have development potential based on current zoning.

Both the Province and HRM stressed that the moratorium will not cause any shortage of affordable and available land for housing development. Currently, there are 4,000 approved building lots available throughout HRM-- 2,700 of these are located in the affected area of the moratorium. In a typical 12-month period in HRM, only about 700 lots would be used for new housing, so there is an ample two-year supply.

The Halifax Regional Water Commission(HRWC), concerned about the increase in the frequency and severity of water quantity and quality problems related to unserviced development, also fully supports the temporary curtailment of major subdivision development at this time.

Carl Yates, HRWC General Manager, said "Approval of new unserviced developments under the current policies without hydro-geological assessments increases the probability that HRM and the Water Commission will be drawn into costly future servicing schemes. Considering the public health issues associated with unsafe drinking water, the continued approval of new on-site developments in areas known, or suspected, of having water problems, is difficult to defend."


Mayor Peter Kelly
(902) 490-4010

Cathryn Steel
HRM Regional Planning Project
(902) 490-6011

Carl Yates
General Manager, HRWC
(902) 490-4840

Above content last modified Thursday, November 02, 2023 at 11:40am.