What is the Regional Plan and why is it being reviewed?

    The Regional Plan outlines where, when, and how we grow as a municipality between now and 2031.  We can think of the Regional Plan as our vision on how to improve the quality of our lives through the growth of healthy and vibrant communities, a strong economy, and a sustainable environment.  

    This vision seeks to address the needs, views, and diversity of all our citizens, communities, and geography.  Our Regional Plan was first adopted in 2006, but over time, we need to review our plan.  We first reviewed our plan in 2014.  We are now reviewing our plan for a second time.  It’s time to check-in and make sure it still reflects our region’s goals for growth and development. 

    What does the Regional Plan do?

    The Regional Plan is a powerful document that has a few purposes. 

    The Regional Plan directs secondary planning which is planning at a neighbourhood level to create a new community including features such as location of buildings, streets, and parks. Background studies and community input is critical to Secondary Planning.

    The Regional Plan identifies programming or partnership opportunities.  The Municipality should not be working in isolation on the many issues that face us at a Regional Level – for example social planning which includes topics such as affordable housing and community health and well-being.  HRM seeks opportunities to work with other levels of government, organizations, and community groups to advance diversity and inclusion, equitable and meaningful representation, and meeting everyone’s basic needs.

    The Regional Plan also guides amendments to land use bylaws regulations – or – the rules for how we build, guides research programs and studies to make sound, science based decisions, and guides governance structures – or – how to manage and assign roles of HRM as an organization. 

    What exactly is being reviewed?

    The intent of the Regional Plan remains sound and this review is considered minor.  This review will focus on gauging the success of policies and programs from the 2014 review.  

    Since 2014, HRM has adopted a few new priority plans including:

    • Integrated Mobility Plan (adopted in 2017);
    • Halifax Green Network Plan (adopted in 2018);
    • HalifACT (adopted in 2020);
    • Economic Growth Plan 2016 – 2021;
    • Sharing Our Stories (Culture & Heritage Priorities Plan) (adoption targeted for ? );

    These priority plans – or – management plans are detailed actions to carry out policy directives of the Regional Plan.  Since they are new, the Regional Plan policies may need to be updated to include new policy direction from the Priority Plans.   New and emerging issues that are not captured by Priority Planning may also be identified through public feedback which will inform us on any new planning research needed for our next review period which is expected to begin in 2026.

    How is it being reviewed and where are we in the process?

    In February, 2020, Regional Council initiated the Regional Plan review.  The initial stage, Phase 1, of the review included project planning and initiation, policy research, and early engagement.

    We are undertaking our second five-year review which began in 2020 and will continue until 2022. For more information on the work program, see the initiation report.   

    We are currently in our second phase of the Regional Plan Review: development of the Key Themes and Directions Report and engagement of that report.   Phase 2 will occur over the spring, summer, and fall of 2021. 

    The Key Themes and Directions Report represents the first major deliverable of the Regional Plan Review. The purpose of the document is to explain the scope of the Regional Plan Review to the public, stakeholders and Council, and to seek feedback. 

    The document includes eleven Themes, each of which introduce an overall topic area bringing together work completed over the last five years. The Directions – highlighted in each Theme under the heading “The Regional Plan Review will” – explain the work that will be done through the Regional Plan Review.

    The feedback staff receive on this document will help provide focus and direction for future work during the Review. 

    After the review of the Themes and Directions report, there will be draft changes to the Regional Plan, engagement on those draft changes, revisions, and finally an approval process through Regional Council.  The Third phase of the Regional Plan is expected to be completed by the Fall of 2022.

    What are the next steps?

    After reviewing and receiving comments from the Themes and Directions report, staff will start to draft changes to the Regional Plan policy.  When the changes to the policy have been drafted, we will provide an overview of the draft document, highlight proposed major changes, and receive feedback as part of the next phase of engagement.  Additional engagement will take place following the release of the final draft of the Regional Plan amendments to provide an overview of the document and highlight how public input from the previous engagement phases have been used to inform recommendations. This is intended to help residents, stakeholders and Council understand how feedback has been received and used, particularly in the absence of more traditional in-person engagement.

    How do I participate?

    There are a variety of ways that you will be able to participate in the Regional Plan review.  Stay tuned as these features are added:

    Website engagement: The Shape Your City webpage for the project will include pre-recorded webinars, surveys, interactive maps, Q&A pages, and comment forums. 

    Virtual Q&A webinars: The Regional Plan Review team and subject matter experts will host live virtual Q&A sessions on key topics including housing, social policy, climate change, environment, mobility, and long-range planning. These webinars will be recorded and posted on the Shape Your City page. 

    Email and telephone comments and inquiries: Staff will be available to respond to email and telephone inquiries on an ongoing basis.