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HRM Staff Building Lot Figures Correct
(Wednesday, January 28/2004)-- Figures quoted by municipal staff last week regarding the number of building lots available now for residential construction are correct--- and they are conservative estimates, Chief Administrative Officer George McLellan said today.
Mr. McLellan said he was disappointed the staff figures are being questioned publicly by Paul Pettipas, President of the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association, because it attacks the integrity and competence of all HRM staff.
"We do not, nor do we have any interest in, bringing forward inaccurate information to Regional Council, our residents or anyone else." Mr. McLellan said. "Our responsibility is to provide our best information and our best advice to Council, so they can make informed decisions. To infer that staff is inflating figures to justify a position is both wrong and insulting,"
Mr. McLellan said Mr. Pettipas and other members of the development community met with HRM staff last Friday to discuss the recent Ministerial Order, which places a 90-day moratorium on approvals of new large-scale subdivisions in most unserviced areas of the HRM. It was agreed at that time that the group would meet again this Friday to allow staff the opportunity to show on a map, and list in detail, the available building lots.
"We are surprised that Mr. Pettipas chose to disregard this agreement and launch a public campaign in the media, questioning the numbers, questioning staff's ability and inferring that housing prices will increase as a result of the moratorium. These scare tactics don't do anyone, any good."
In a news release dated January 22, 2004, HRM stated that 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.
It stated that 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 Interim Affected Area (IAA) of the moratorium. In a typical 12-month period in HRM, only about 700 lots would be used for new housing in the affected area, so there is an ample two-year supply.
Confirmed HRM staff figures show there are 2,400 approved building lots identified in the Interim Affected Area now, and another 300 lots that are in the final stages of approval under terms of the Ministerial Order. As well, there are many more lots that could be developed, but land owners have not applied for approvals yet.
Mr. McLellan said "Even if one were to use Mr.Pettipas' incorrect estimate that there are only about 1,000 building lots available now, that translates into more than a one-and-a-half years supply of land, based on our experience (only about 700 lots in unserviced area are used each year for housing in HRM)."
"If the comments by Mr Pettipas and others in the home building industry that this interim moratorium will force housing costs higher are left unchecked, then they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The plain truth is that there are more than enough available approved lots within the present service boundary and in the Interim Affected Area to meet the normal housing demands for the next number of years, " the CAO said.
Chief Administrative Officer
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