Introduction

    The following are provided to answer some of the most common questions about the Centre Plan, key policy directions, and how transition to new policies and regulations may affect property owners.  For more detail, please refer to the full Plan and Land Use By-law, various fact sheets and presentations available in the Centre Plan document library.   If you have a specific question about your property, please contact HRM Planning & Development or planhrm@halifax.ca.

    Do you have a Glossary of Terms?

    Glossary


    Select terms are provided below for convenience only; for a full set of legal definitions and illustrations please refer to the Regional Centre Land Use By-law (LUB), Part XV.  

    As-of-right Development: An as-of-right development is one that complies with all applicable zoning regulations and does not require any discretionary action by HRM Council but requires a development permit. Most development in HRM is as-of-right.

    Backyard Suite: a self-contained subordinate dwelling unit that is located within an accessory building or structure such as a detached converted garage.  

    Built Form: Built form refers to the function, shape and configuration of buildings as well as their relationship to streets and open spaces

    Flanking Yard: a yard between any wall of the main building and a flanking lot line, excluding any area of the lot that is a front yard. Applies only to corner lots (see Diagram 36 in the Land Use Bylaw) 

    Floor Area:  the horizontal area of all floors in a building, measured from the interior faces of any exterior or fire walls and including interior staircases, and excluding the following:

    (a) unenclosed space outside any exterior walls or located on a rooftop, such as balconies and patios;

    (b) any floor area below the lowest ground floor of a building;

    (c) elevator shafts;

    (d) accessory structures; (e.g., a shed or free-standing garage)

    (e) rooftop greenhouses;

    (f) any space open to a floor below; and

    (g) pedways.

    Floor Area Ratio (FAR):  the total floor area of all main buildings within a FAR precinct on a lot, divided by the area of the lot within that FAR precinct.

    Local commercial use: a commercial premise that:  offers goods or products for sale or rent, including food prepared on a site but excludes a restaurant use; or offers personal services. 

    Rear Yard: the yard extending across the full lot width, between the rear lot line and the nearest wall of any main structure on the lot, excluding any area of the lot that is a flanking yard. 

    Secondary suite: a self-contained subordinate dwelling unit within a main dwelling unit. For example, a basement apartment or in-law suite. 

    Setback:  a required distance to a lot line or a transportation reserve boundary from an exterior wall of a building or a use, at, above, or below grade. See Diagram 29 in the Land Use Bylaw. 

    Shared housing: a dwelling unit that contains 4 or more bedrooms that:

    (a) are each rented as separate residential units; and/or

    (b) provide medical care for the occupants, such as nursing care; and/or

    (c) are licensed under the Homes for Special Care Act; and/or

    (d) are operated by a non-profit organization or a registered Canadian charitable organization that provides support services to the occupants of the dwelling unit.

    Small shared housing:  a shared housing use that contains no less than 4 bedrooms and no more than 10 bedrooms.  Note:  the actual number of bedrooms permitted will depend on the type of low-density buildings permitted in the zone.  For example, where only single-unit dwellings are permitted in the ER-1 zone, only 6 shared housing bedrooms will be permitted.  

    Side yard: a yard between the front yard and the rear yard, and between the side lot line and the nearest wall of any main structure on the lot. See Diagram 35 in the Land Use Bylaw.

    Stepback: a horizontal recess that breaks the vertical plane of an exterior wall on a main building. For example, built form regulations may require that the building is recessed a certain distance above the first 2 or 3 storeys which we typically call a “streetwall”.  See Diagram 29 in the Land Use Bylaw.

    Streetline: any lot line dividing a lot from a street or private road.

    Streetwall:  the wall of a building or portion of a wall of a building facing a streetline or a waterfront view corridor below the height of a specified stepback. Where no specified stepback is required, the streetwall is the wall facing the streetline or the waterfront view corridor. See Diagram 32 in the Land Use Bylaw. 

    Transitions: Land Use By-law requirements to ensure that higher-intensity buildings and uses taper or provide buffer for adjacent low-rise residential forms, less intense land uses and parks. This may include larger setbacks, building stepbacks for upper elevations, and landscaped buffer requirements.  For an example, see Section 113, Table 9 of the Land Use By-law.    

                                                                  

    1. What is the Centre Plan?

    The Centre Plan is a planning process for the Regional Centre, including Peninsula Halifax and Dartmouth inside the Circumferential Highway. This area is recognized as HRM’s urban core, and is the civic, cultural and economic centre of the Municipality. Although it is less than 1% of the municipality’s area, it houses over 25% of the region’s population.

    The Centre Plan will replace four separate plans and land use By-laws for the Regional Centre which have mostly been in place since amalgamation – in some cases, since the 1970s. By consolidating multiple plans into one, the municipality will be modernizing and simplifying the development process and creating a consistent regulatory framework for the entire Regional Centre.  

    The Centre Plan is being developed in two phases:  Package A was approved in September of 2019, and Package B is currently available for public feedback.   The adoption process for implementing the Centre Plan into law requires public consultation, review by a number of committees of Council, Community Councils, a public hearing held by Regional Council, and provincial review.   

    2. What are planning documents? How do they relate to the Centre Plan?

    Planning documents allow the Municipality to regulate how land is used and developed to balance physical, social and economic development. There are several types of planning documents used in the municipality:

    • Regional Planning Strategy directs the overall growth and provision of municipal services in the municipality;
    • Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy (SMPS or Plan) builds on the direction contained in the Regional Planning Strategy by providing more specific policies for a specific area within the municipality, such as the Regional Centre. It includes policies to guide the land use, built form, transportation, housing, environment, heritage and culture, economic development, and any programs and actions necessary to implement the Plan;
    • Land Use By-law (LUB) implements policies of the Plan related to land use and development by prescribing zones and other standards that a development proposal must meet to be approved. It can also include design requirements to regulate the external appearance of buildings.

    3. What are the growth goals of the Centre Plan?

    The draft Centre Plan is designed to accommodate up to 40% of total regional growth, which was estimated in 2017 to be 18,000 new residential units, and 33,000 new residents over the next 10-15 years.  The Centre Plan provides for additional capacity to ensure that opportunities for growth exist in various parts of the Regional Centre.   

    The Centre Plan is needed to ensure future growth is focused in areas which can provide the necessary amenities and municipal services that a growing population requires, while simplifying and clarifying the planning process. The Centre Plan is based on the core concepts of Complete Communities, Human Scale Design, Pedestrians First, and Strategic Growth.

    4. What is Centre Plan “Package A”?

    The Centre Plan is being adopted in two phases, each of which deal with different designations and zones.  Package A was adopted by Regional Council in September 2019, and Package B is the current focus of consultation. Package B was scheduled to go before Council in September 2020, but in light of the Covid-19 pandemic these timelines will be revisited in the coming months.   

    Package A dealt with mixed-use designations of the Regional Centre, including:

    These areas can accommodate a significant amount of growth through infill and redevelopment and are generally well-served by transit or located near transit hubs.  

    5. What is Centre Plan “Package B”?

    The Centre Plan is being adopted in two phases, each of which deal with different designations and zones (see Question #4 above).  Package B contains proposed planning policies and land use regulations for the remainder of the Regional Centre. It includes the following new designations:

    Package B will be adopted by repealing and replacing Package A. Please see centreplan.ca for planning documents, as well as summary fact sheets and presentations.   

    6. What is the impact of the Covid-19 state of emergency on Centre Plan “Package B”?

    Although public meetings have been cancelled until further notice, additional online engagement tools are being developed.   Watch centreplan.ca for updated timeline. Do you have a comment you would like share about Package B? Send us your feedback by e-mail to planhrm@halifax.ca

    7. What are some of the changes being proposed in “Package B”?

    • Including the Downtown Halifax Plan area in Centre Plan; 
    • Including policies and regulations for the already approved Schmidtville Heritage Conservation District; 
    • Establishing land use policies for Parks and Community Facilities;  
    • Allowing secondary suites*, backyard suites*, shared housing, urban agriculture, home occupations, and local commercial uses in all low-density residential areas;
    • Establishing zones, precincts and special areas in the Established Residential Designation to recognize the unique character of certain areas;
    • Protecting Industrial Employment lands for industrial uses, including marine-oriented industrial uses;  
    • Protecting Institutional Employment lands, while also permitting institutional uses in other mixed-use zones; 
    • Updating policy for Cogswell lands in preparation for the completion of Cogswell master planning and additional community engagement;    
    • Establishing a landmark building policy to support adaptive re-use of certain institutional buildings (e.g., churches and schools);
    • Establishing a new Future Growth Node (FGN) on the Southdale lands, Dartmouth, to enable the future comprehensive planning of streets and parks, while recognizing the development potential is limited by environmental constraints and a low-density residential context (the lands are currently in a holding zone under the Dartmouth Land Use By-law);
    • Maintaining special zoning provisions for the Young Avenue Special Area, and proposing two development agreement options to further support: 
      • the maintenance of existing buildings;  
      • the re-development of existing vacant lands on larger lots than exist today; and 
      • design requirements for any new developments (see questions 27 & 28 for more detail); 
    • Establishing controls to limit development of water lots for the Northwest Arm, Lake Mic Mac, and Lake Banook Special Areas through the Water Access Designation; 
    • Extending the CentreCorridor, and Higher-Order Residential Designations and Zoning, which allow mixed-use and multi-unit residential buildings, for certain areas based on further analysis or Council direction (see comparison Map).   

    8. What is happening to single-unit and low-rise residential zones?

    A new Established Residential (ER) Designation will be applied to low-rise residential areas (e.g. existing R-1, R-2, and townhouse zones). The intent of this new designation is to preserve existing neighbourhood character while providing more opportunities for different housing types and forms. The ER Designation will also permit limited neighbourhood-oriented commercial uses, institutional uses, parks, recreation facilities, and urban agriculture.

    The ER Designation will create four new zones:

    • Established Residential 1 (ER-1) – the intent of this zone is to retain the scale of the existing built form of low-rise, single-unit residential areas while allowing gentle density in the form of secondary suites and backyard suites. It allows for a main dwelling and one secondary suite or a backyard suite. A limited number of areas will be allowed internal conversions for up to three-units. This zone is also applied to proposed Heritage Conservation Districts to limit redevelopment opportunities before the heritage value of buildings are fully researched and protected.  It allows local commercial uses on corner lots only.  
    • Established Residential 2 (ER-2) – this zone is intended to provide a range of low-rise housing types, including two-unit dwellings, townhouses, and three-unit dwellings. It is applied to lands near to or surrounded by mobility links and community nodes. It will permit local commercial uses on corner lots only.   
    • Established Residential 3 (ER-3) – this zone is applied to lands abutting transportation links, and allows for a range of low-rise housing types up to four units. It will permit local commercial uses on the ground floor of any building.
    • Land-Leased Community (LLC) – this zone allows mobile homes and accessory uses.

    For a detailed list of permitted uses proposed in the ER Zone, please refer to Table 1 (page 40) of the Land Use By-law.   

    Higher intensity zones abutting ER Zones will be required to meet transition requirements to these zones, such as setbacks and landscaped buffers.    

    9. What is the “Urban Structure” and how does it relate to the growth and development in the Regional Centre?

    The Urban Structure sets the overall land use pattern for the Regional Centre and it includes ten different designations (e.g. Park and Community Facility, Established Residential, Downtown etc.).  It is the basis for establishing zones, and transitions in urban density as well as uses. Several technical studies were completed using census data, market analysis data, transportation and infrastructure capacity, building performance studies, and need and demand for housing.   These were used to inform policies related to future growth, bonus zoning, housing needs, and the cost of service delivery under different growth scenarios.

    10. How will the Centre Plan benefit me and my community?

    The Centre Plan promotes complete communities where people can live, work, learn, and play within close commuting distances. Some of the benefits of updating planning policies include:

    • More options for business and housing developments to locate in various areas of the Regional Centre, and for various uses to co-locate;
    • Greater protection for heritage and incentives to maintain and re-invest in heritage buildings;
    • More options for shared housing*, home occupations, work-live units, and urban agriculture;
    • Mixed-use developments aligned with transit and active transportation routes that can support: 
      • sustainable travel options and reduced emissions;
      • reduced need for parking and travel;  
      • active living and health benefits;
      • time and money savings;
    • Urban design of buildings and public spaces that prioritizes the safety and comfort of pedestrians;  
    • Allowing secondary suites, backyard suites and shared housing, which can create affordable housing in the core, while offsetting home ownership costs for property owners;  
    • Vibrant commercial streets and other amenities due to increased population and better urban design;  
    • One plan for the Regional Centre instead of four;
    • More predictability for residents and property owners about what can be built where;
    • Streamlined development review processes;  
    • Updated development rules and clear development rights, which can reduce the need for site-specific changes to the Plan and Land Use By-law; and
    • Bonus zoning to support additional growth with public benefits such as public art, and investments in heritage, and affordable housing.

    11. How does Centre Plan support affordable housing?

    The Centre Plan is designed to support the development of affordable housing by:

    • Providing for a wide range of building types throughout the Regional Centre;
    • Allowing for infill housing, secondary suites, and backyard suites;
    • Requiring a mix of unit types in high-density multi-unit developments;
    • Facilitating greater location choices for shared housing options;
    • Reducing or eliminating parking requirements;
    • Requiring the majority (60%) of incentive or bonus zoning public benefit value to be dedicated to affordable housing as money-in-lieu, which will be used to fund future municipal investments in affordable housing programs; and
    • Continued government and community partnerships to address affordable housing targets;
    • Planning for safe, affordable housing near amenities and services.

    12. What maximum building height will be permitted in my community?

    The maximum heights of buildings will depend on the zones, maximum heights and maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR)* applied to each property:

    • Downtown Dartmouth Special Area, and zones in the Centre Designation are regulated by FAR but cannot exceed a height of 90 metres (see Schedule 9)
    • Downtown Halifax Special Area and all other zones are proposed to be regulated by maximum height (see Schedule 7).  
    • In certain areas development is also subject to viewplanes and ramparts identified in the Land Use By-law, and cannot be changed without a Plan amendment.   

    See our current interactive map for key proposed regulations.

    13. What is bonus zoning and how will it work?

    Incentive or bonus zoning is a planning tool which allows the Municipality to permit additional density, up to a specified maximum, in exchange for providing a community amenity. This can include the provision of acceptable public benefits such as public art or affordable housing (see Density Bonusing fact sheet). The developer must provide either on-site public benefit, or a cash contribution to the Municipality to achieve the total allowable density.   

    The Municipality is currently developing policies and programs on how the collected funds will be spent..    

    The Centre Plan is expanding bonus zoning from just downtown Halifax to other areas of the Regional Centre:

    • Incentive or bonus-zoning will apply to all developments over 2,000 square metres in the Downtown, Centre, Corridor, and Higher Order Residential designations. The method of calculating the value of public benefits is set out in Section 314 of the draft Package B Land Use By-lawand is calculated as follows: 
      • new floor area of a building over 2,000 sm X 20% X bonus rate per square metre
      • bonus rates are based on average land values in various areas of the Regional Centre  
      • smaller projects or the first 2,000 sm is exempt from the calculation (see detailed fact sheet).

    14. What public benefits can the community expect as part of bonus zoning?

    The following public benefits will be accepted as part of bonus zoning in the Regional Centre:  

    • money-in-lieu for affordable housing in the Regional Centre (mandatory 60% of total public benefit except where registered heritage buildings are conserved);
      • conservation of registered heritage buildings on-site of development (up to 90% of total public value, and 100% in Old South Heritage Conservation District);
      • money-in-lieu for conservation of a registered heritage building or a building within a heritage conservation district not located on site of a development;
      • money-in-lieu for acquisition of land or improvements to municipal parks;
      • money-in-lieu for affordable community or cultural indoor space;
      • on-site public art on site (minimum value of $100,000), or money-in-lieu;

    15. What is site plan approval and where does it apply?

    Site Plan Approval is used to enable a Development Officer to approve a development application based on built form standards set out in the Land Use By-law (e.g., building height and width, setbacks, parking spaces, etc). It is also used to regulate the appearance of buildings based on design requirements set out in the Land Use By-law.  

    Site plan approval for larger projects (Level 2 and 3) will include a design review by the Design Advisory Committee composed of design professionals and community members who will provide advice to the Development Officer.  The site plan approval process improves the timing and predictability of development approvals.

    There are three levels of site plan approval approved under Package A, each with a different level of public engagement:

    • Level 1 – for small buildings (under 2,000 square metres), minor building additions (under 1000 square metres), and changes to external appearance of structures. No public consultation required.
    • Level 2 – for new construction of medium-sized buildings (2,000 to 5,000 square metres) and moderate additions (1,000 to 3,000 square metres) to existing buildings. Information to the public, through on-site signage and a website is required.
    • Level 3 – for large projects (over 5,000 square metres) that may generate a higher level of public interest and require a higher degree of design review. Public information and consultation, through gathering feedback, is required.

    The site plan approval application process is outlined here.

    Package A established site plan approval in the Downtown (Dartmouth), Centre, Corridor and Higher-Order Residential designations. Package B extends it to the Commercial, Institutional, University and College, Hospital, Park and Community Facility, and Regional Park zones.  It will also change the current site plan approval process in Downtown Halifax to be aligned with Centre Plan Package A.     

    16. How will site plan approval in Downtown Halifax change?

    The following changes to the site plan approval are proposed under Centre Plan to the Downtown Halifax Site Plan Approval process:

    • Design requirements in the Land Use By-law will replace the current Design Manual
    • The Design Advisory Committee will replace the Design Review Committee
    • The substantive and non-substantive site plan approval processes will be replaced by the 3 levels of site plan approval (see question 15 above)
    • Appeals will be directed to the new Regional Centre Community Council, instead of Regional Council.  

    Please note that the existing process will stay in place for the two existing Heritage Conservation Districts (Barrington and Old South) – see question 18 below.  

    17. How is Centre Plan going to address heritage?

    The Centre Plan includes heritage conservation policies to:

    • protect and restore cultural and heritage resources through ongoing and new programs;
    • continue to identify and register heritage resources;
    • enable alterations and adaptive reuse of heritage properties through site plan approval (subject to heritage design requirements, as well as a development agreement option);
    • incentivize restoration of heritage structures on a site through density bonusing or a development agreement option;
    • encourage adaptive reuse of buildings which are not registered heritage properties, but are considered “landmark buildings” due to their architecture or historical use;
    • require design requirements for development that abuts registered heritage properties; and
    • reduce development pressure on registered heritage properties and proposed heritage conservation districts.

    18. What are Heritage Conservation Districts?

    Centre Plan Package B identifies 10 potential future Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs). These are areas with a collection of properties that HRM identifies as having significant heritage value, character, and attributes (i.e. a street or a neighbourhood). Once established under the Heritage Property Act, these areas are intended to have additional protection from demolition, as well as additional development regulations and incentives designed to protect heritage resources.    

    19. How will existing Heritage Conservation Districts be incorporated in Centre Plan?

    Council can establish special heritage protection provisions for a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) by adopting a conservation plan and By-law. HRM currently has three HCDs, all within the Regional Centre. Two of these, the Barrington Street and Old South Suburb HCDs, are located in the Downtown Halifax area and have By-laws that refer to the Downtown Halifax Plan and Land Use By-law, rather than Centre Plan. For the time being, the Downtown Halifax policies and regulations will continue to apply to the Barrington Street and Old South Suburb HCDs, rather than Centre Plan. The intent is to amend them in the future and fully incorporate them as part of Centre Plan.  

    20. Are there changes to parking requirements?

    The Centre Plan has eliminated many of the minimum required parking spaces for a number of zones, and instituted maximum number of parking spaces for others. For instance, most established residential zones will have a maximum of 4 parking spaces per lot, and Downtown, Centre and Corridor zones do not require any parking spaces in many cases. Parking requirements for uses in each zone are set out in Table 17 in Section XI (Parking and Off-Street Loading) of the Land Use By-law

    21. What is a Special Area?

    Special areas are established to recognize unique local characteristics where a different approach to land use policies and by-laws is warranted. These areas need context-specific regulations to achieve Centre Plan goals while protecting their unique character or function. Examples are large-scale developments like King’s Wharf and Scotia Square, waterbodies like the Northwest Arm and Lake Banook, and some Established Residential neighbourhoods like Young Avenue. View the special area fact sheet.

    22. Will my existing development rights be “grandfathered?” What is a non-conforming use or structure?

    If your property has a use or structure on it that meets today’s Land Use By-law rules, but those rules change under the new Regional Centre Land Use By-law, the use or structure could be considered “nonconforming” in the future. Sometimes people refer to this as “grandfathering.” This could mean that if your building was built legally under the old rules, it can continue to exist, be repaired and maintained even if it doesn’t meet the new rules.


    The HRM Charter refers to three types of non-conformity:

    • “Non-conforming structure” means an existing structure that no longer meets the requirements of the new Land-Use By-law (e.g. a house that is 5 feet from a property line, when the By-law requires a minimum setback of 10 feet);
    • “Non-conforming use of land” means an existing use of land that is no longer permitted in the zone applied when the new Land Use By-law is approved (e.g. a commercial parking lot in a residential zone); and
    • “Non-conforming use in a structure” means a use in a structure that is not permitted in the zone in which the structure is located (e.g. a retail store on the ground floor of a house in a residential zone).


    The HRM Charter also provides guidance about how the different types of non-conformity can evolve in the future:


    • Both non-conforming uses and structures are protected by the HRM Charter (Sections 235-256 for more detail), and may continue to exist, be repaired and maintained if they existed and were lawfully permitted at the date of the first publication of the notice of intention to adopt or amend a Land-Use By-law;
    • A change of tenant does not affect the status of non-conforming uses;
    • Centre Plan permits non-conforming uses to be expanded or changed to a less-intense non-conforming use by development agreement; 
    • Non-conforming residential uses and structures enjoy additional protection, and can be re-built even if destroyed by fire; as stated in the S. 254 (1) of the HRM CharterWhere a non-conforming structure is located in a zone that permits the use made of it and the structure is used primarily for residential purposes,” it may be rebuilt, repaired, if destroyed by fire, or otherwise; 
    • The Regional Centre Land Use By-law permits any non-conforming structures to be extended, enlarged, or altered if the non-compliance is not made worse. 


    Please check with HRM Planning and Development if you have a question about how these rules may apply to your property.

    23. I’m planning to build a new building on my property, but I haven’t started yet. Are my rights grandfathered if the Centre Plan is adopted?

    If Council adopts a new Regional Centre Land Use By-law, some property rights might change. If you are planning to develop your property, Section 253 of the HRM Charter requires that before Council publishes a notice of intention to adopt or amend the Land Use By-law, you must:

    • receive construction permits for your new development;
    • start construction within one year; and
    • complete that construction within a reasonable time.

    If you haven’t received a construction permit for your development before Council publishes a notice of intention to adopt or amend the Land Use By-law, your new building will need to meet the new requirements.

    Please check with HRM Planning and Development if you have a question about how these rules may apply to your property.


    24. I have a development permit, but I don’t have a construction permit yet. Will my development permit still be valid once the Centre Plan is approved?

    If you have received a development permit and the regulations for your property do not change with the adoption of the Regional Centre LUB, that development permit remains valid until it expires. The development permit alone (without an associated construction permit) is not enough to 'grandfather' or establish non-conforming rights (see questions 23, above).

    Please check with HRM Planning and Development if you have a question about how these rules may apply to your property.

    25. My building is under construction, will it be permitted under the Centre Plan?

    If Council adopts a new Regional Centre Land Use By-law, and your building doesn’t meet the new requirements, it may be considered non-conforming and subject to the provisions of the HRM Charter (see question 22 above).

    Your building may be considered a non-conforming structure if, before Council publishes a notice of intention to adopt or amend a land use by-law, you received a development permit and a construction permit, started construction within 12 months, and you must complete the construction within a reasonable time as deemed by the Development Officer. 

    If your building also includes a non-conforming use, the permit for that use had to be issued with the construction permit, and the use must commence when construction is complete.

    Please check with HRM Planning and Development if you have a question about how these rules may apply to your property.

    26. How will approved development agreements within the Regional Centre be affected?

    Development agreements approved in advance of Centre Plan adoption will remain valid, allowing landowners to receive development permits and construction permits consistent with the development rights in the development agreements.  Centre Plan transition policies also enabled minor changes to those development agreements. 

    Most development agreements include “sunset clauses” which state a deadline for completion of construction. If a development agreement is not in keeping with the Centre Plan, the “sunset clause” would allow Council to discharge the development agreement after a certain amount of time.   If a development agreement is discharged, the underlying zoning will apply instead.  

    Centre Plan transition policies also allow Council to consider the following one-time extension to pre-Centre Plan development agreements: one-year for commencement, and two years for completion.  

    It is important to ensure that you apply for any extension before the development agreement expires. 

    Please check with HRM Planning and Development if you have a question about how these rules may apply to your property.

    27. How will active development agreement applications be affected?

    Similar to Centre Plan Package A, draft Centre Plan Package B policies provide for the following transition for active development agreement applications during the Centre Plan planning process:   

    • Active development agreement applications must: 
      • proceed to a public hearing within 24 months of the Plan and Land Use By-law being approved by Council;  
      • be started within three years and completed within six years of the date of their approved development agreement; and
      • each project is also limited to one extension request, with a maximum of one extra year for commencement and two extra years for completion.

    Please check with HRM Planning and Development if you have a question about how these rules may apply to your property.

    28. How will completed site plan approval applications be treated?

    Recognizing the investment made in site plan approval applications under Downtown Halifax and Centre Plan Package B policies, complete site plan applications (those that completed required community engagement) tabled with the Municipality on or before the date of first notice will be considered under the Land Use By-law in effect immediately prior to the date of the first notice.  

    A development permit will be issued for these applications within 24 months from Centre Plan Package B being in effect if all requirements of the Land Use By-law are met. The development permit shall expire after 24 months. Please refer to Policy 10.32 of the Package B Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy for more information.   

    Please check with HRM Planning and Development if you have a question about how these rules may apply to your property.

    29. How will the Municipality evaluate applications before and after the adoption of the Regional Centre planning documents?

    The policies and regulations that currently exist in the Dartmouth, Peninsula Halifax, Downtown Dartmouth and Downtown Halifax planning documents will continue to be used to evaluate planning applications up to the point of formal adoption of the new Regional Centre planning documents.  After the Regional Centre planning documents are approved, only the new policies and regulations will be used to evaluate planning applications, except for provisions under Centre Plan transition policies (see questions 22-26).   Regional Council has also directed that no Plan amendment applications be considered for Package B lands while the adoption process is underway. 

    30. Is Centre Plan Package B proposing more density for the Young Avenue neighbourhood for existing vacant lands? Why is Centre Plan changing recently approved rules?

    The Young Avenue Precinct is recognized as a unique residential area under the Halifax Plan, and the Centre Plan. To support the preservation of the existing built form of the street and provide development that fits its character on existing vacant lands within the area, the Centre Plan is maintaining built form regulations that currently exist in the Halifax Plan for as-of-right developments*.  The Centre Plan is maintaining the following built form regulations for the ER-1 (single-unit zone) in the Young Avenue Special Area: 

    • Minimum lot area of 743 square metres;
    • Minimum lot width of 24.4 metres and lot depth of 30.48 metres;
    • Minimum side setback of 10% of lot width to a maximum of 3 metres;
    • 35% lot coverage;
    • Maximum height of 11 metres;
    • Internal conversion of up to 3 residential units; and
    • Minimum front and flanking yard of 4 metres. 

    Prior to the special requirements coming into effect for Young Avenue Special Area, a number of buildings have been demolished and the vacant lots have been subdivided into lots that do not meet the above minimum lot size requirements.  

    To further support development in line with existing neighbourhood character and to encourage consolidation of these smaller lots into larger lots through re-subdivision, a new development agreement policy is proposed under Centre Plan Package B.  This policy would allow for vacant lands that existed on September 19, 2019 to apply for a development agreement for up to 4 residential units and will have to meet very specific design requirements.  

    This development agreement process requires Council to consult the public and to hold a public hearing before the development agreement is approved. The requirements of the development agreement include larger lots, that may have narrower frontages than the as-of-right process currently enabled under the Halifax Plan and Land Use By-law. 

    The development agreement requirements also include design controls. The table below compares the “as-of-right” development permit requirements, and the proposed built form requirements under the proposed development agreement process. 

    Comparison of as-of-right and development agreement option within the Young Ave Special Area: 


    Young Avenue Zoning Requirements (Halifax LUB, and carried forward in Centre Plan LUB)

    Young Avenue Development Agreement Requirements (Policy 10.36)

    Minimum Lot Area

    743 sm 

    772 sm

    Lot frontage 

    24.4 m 

    15.85 m

    Lot depth 

    30.48 m 

    48.75 sm

    Maximum heights 

    11 m 

    10.86 m excluding penthouse (max. 3.42 m) setback 6 m from the roof edge facing the streetline 

    Min. front yard setback

    4 m 

    12.19 m

    Min. side yard setback 

    3 m or max. 10% of lot width 

    1.82 m 

    Min. rear yard setback 

    6 m 

    6.09 m 

    Design requirements 

    None 

    Yes 

    (policy 10.36 and the Design Manual) 

    Max. number of units 

    1 + 1 secondary suite or backyard suite or

    3 (through internal conversion only)

    4


    31. Why is there a new development agreement policy for existing buildings in the proposed Centre Plan Package B Young Avenue Special Area?

    The existing Young Avenue residential area is recognized as a unique and distinct part of the Regional Centre as a “Special Area”. Given the large size of existing homes, it may be difficult for some property owners to maintain the existing housing stock as-is. 

    To maintain the character of the streetscape, the Plan under Policy 10.36 offers a development agreement option for existing homes to convert to up to 6 residential units and follow some of the following requirements: 

    • the façade of the building is maintained;  
    • consider the Design Manual of the Plan; 
    • meet the Land Use By-law built form requirements for the Young Avenue Special Area (see above);  
    • any expansion can only take place in the rear of the building; 
    • landscaping is provided to buffer neighboring properties;  and 
    • that the project meets certain design requirements. 

    This option would also require public consultation and Council approval prior to any development taking place.