Centre Plan R1 compared to ER1, secondary suites public hearing, Coronavirus Update #35, more

Some folks have been getting emails or seeing social media posts that seem to show big changes proposed in the R1 zones in the Centre Plan.  I’m going to try and show what is changing and what is not, but really what I think is surprising to the people who have called me is how permissive the rules are on the peninsula already.

Right now the R1 zone in the Peninsula Land Use Bylaw, South End Detail Area Plan (adopted around 1982) allows these uses:

  • Up to three-unit conversion in some areas if the home has not changed envelop since 1982
  • Daycare Up to 14 kids
  • Special Care home up to 10 people including staff
  • Office and/or  home occupation
  • Boarding house up to 3 boarders (unregistered)
  • Boarding house up to bedroom limit if registered
  • Bed and Breakfast up to 3 bedrooms
  • Chicken keeping no limits or controls

If adopted the ER1 zone in the Centre Plan would allow:

  • Up to three-unit conversion in some areas (I am suggesting the same date of 1982 has to be used)
  • Secondary suite or backyard suite (up to 5.5 meters, or 18′) permitted on most lots (has to meet the rules for a garage)
  • If backyard suite is built, maximum conversion drops from 3 units to 2 units
  • Daycare Up to 14 people (including staff) if owner-occupied
  • Small shared housing use (more info on this below)
  • Local commercial on corners on the ground floor (I have already said this has to go in my opinion)
  • Office and/or  home occupation
  • Bed and Breakfast up to 3 bedrooms
  • Urban farms, beekeeping, chicken keeping (up to 10 hens per lot, no roosters)

Shared Housing Use is proposed for a dwelling unit that contains 4 or more bedrooms that:

  1. are rented for remuneration as separate units for residential accommodation;
  2. provide medical care for the occupants of the dwelling unit, such as nursing care;
  3. are licensed under the Homes for Special Care Act; or
  4. are operated by a non-profit organization or a registered Canadian charitable organization that provides support services to the occupants of the dwelling unit.

A shared housing use does not include: a multi-unit dwelling use, a hotel use, a bed and breakfast use, or any other tourist accommodation as defined under the Tourist Accommodation Registration Act.

Under proposed Package B – the scale of share housing uses in ER zones is controlled by:

  • Defining and only allowing ‘small shared housing uses’  – containing up to 10 bedrooms;
  • Ensuring shared housing uses are subject to the same building form, setback and lot requirements;
  • Prohibiting shared housing and some uses from locating on the same lot (i.e. can’t have both shared housing and home daycare etc. ) (LUB section 61); and
  • Including small shared housing in the max bedroom count requirements – as copied below.

And critical to make sure houses are not turned into off-campus dorms is the Maximum Bedroom Counts in Low-Density Dwellings. The following limits on the total number of bedrooms apply to all low-density dwelling uses in ER-3, ER-2, and ER-1 zones, including small shared housing, uses, as follows:

  1. single-unit dwelling use: 6 bedrooms per lot;
  2. semi-detached dwelling use: 4 bedrooms per unit;
  3. townhouse dwelling use: 4 bedrooms per unit;
  4. two-unit dwelling use: 4 bedrooms per unit;
  5. three-unit dwelling use: 9 bedrooms per lot; and
  6. four-unit dwelling use: 10 bedrooms per lot.
All bedrooms in a secondary suite use or a backyard suite use shall be counted toward the bedroom limits.

New info sheets on backyard/granny suites are coming in September, and a clearer comparison between R1, R2, and ER1, ER2 and ER3 is being prepared for the public
ER stakeholder presentation posted on-line does make a few side by side comparisons.  Please see the follow link, slides 14-17.  https://www.shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/1041/widgets/5965/documents/28938

So that is a lot of detail, and of course, Centre Plan Package B is far from being adopted, due to COVID delaying the public engagement.  So I want to hear from you!

I think there is a lot of merit to this clearer approach to the residential zones, and the changes are minimal for District 7, given how permissive the detailed area plans already are. I also like the backyard and granny suite options if it does not go on top of allowed unit counts.  Email me your thoughts.

Due to the diligent work by Lorelei Nicoll, Cole Harbour Councillor and Chair of the Transportation Standing Committee, in-ground crosswalk signs are being tested at five school crosswalk locations. Staff describes them this way:

In-ground crosswalk signs are intended to enhance the conspicuity of school crosswalk locations. The idea behind the development of these types of signs is that signs in the street are more noticeable than signs on the side of the road.

The in-ground crosswalk signs are currently being implemented in the Halifax region on a trial basis at five school crosswalk locations through the Strategic Road Safety Plan. This trial period will test the durability of the signs when left in place for long periods of time, and determine whether they can withstand impacts by snowplows and other vehicles.

If the results of the trial are favourable, the signs may be considered for other school crosswalk locations where there is a demonstrated need.

I saw these in Portland Maine four years ago, and have been a fan ever since.  Thank you Lorelei for championing this, more speed radar signs and more rapid flashing beacon installations like the one that was installed this month at Preston/Jubilee.

Public Hearings

Public Hearing – Accessory Dwelling Units All Residential Areas of HRM (Secondary and Backyard Suites)
Tuesday, September 1, 6 pm and Thursday, September 3, 6 pm as needed | Virtual Hearing

On September 1, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. (and Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. if more time is needed) Halifax Regional Council will hold a virtual public hearing on allowing Secondary and Backyard Suites (also called accessory dwelling units) in all residential areas of HRM. 


Secondary suites – are separate dwelling units that are completely contained within a home. They are often referred to as in-law suites or basement apartments.

Backyard suites – are separate free-standing buildings, either built overtop an accessory structure like a garage, or simply on their own. They are often referred to as granny suites, carriage flats and could be in the form of a tiny house.

Secondary and Backyard suites can be used by aging parents or adult children or can be used as rental units for the general public. The diagram below shows typical arrangements on a residential property.

Residents who wish to participate in the public hearing may forward a written submission no later than 3:00 p.m. on September 1, 2020 or register to speak no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 31, 2020.

Detailed information regarding the proposed changes and how to participate can be found here: https://www.shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/allowing-secondary-suites-as-a-permitted-use

Halifax Regional Council
Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 10 am | Virtual Meeting


Halifax and West Community Council
Tuesday, September 8, 6pm | Virtual Public Hearing


Halifax Regional Council
Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 10 am | Virtual Meeting


Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee
Monday, September 28, 2020, 4:30 pm | Virtual Meeting


Halifax Regional Council
Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 10 am | Virtual Meeting


Community Events

Halifax to Beirut Fundraiser
I can’t bear to edit this amazing email, so here it is: My name is Jaden Lawen and I am a 17-year-old student from Halifax. I am writing to you today with the hope that you will consider donating to a Lebanese relief fund that I have initiated in partnership with the Red Cross.  My initiative was put together out of my desire to help all the people affected by the catastrophic blast.  My website is linked with more information and donations can be made directly on the website. In the last 5 days, I have raised over $40,000 and I am asking you for help to make this number grow. Thank you for your consideration! https://halifaxtobeirutwithlove.ca/

Taking BLK Gottingen
August 29 Sat 12:00 noon | Gottingen Street

Gottingen Street is being taken over by local Black Businesses inside of various Gottingen Street business locations. These businesses will offer food, fashion, wellness products and more. Come experience the North End, celebrate its diversity and support all of our African Nova Scotian entrepreneurs

Live Statue
Friday, September 4, 2:00pm | Halifax Public Gardens

At 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM a Live Statue will pose for one half hour as Diana, Roman Goddess

Victoria Park Labyrinth
Victoria Park at Spring Garden | Sundays until October 4 (unless it is raining).

Every Sunday afternoon a labyrinth is being set up at Victoria Park on the grass for anyone who wishes to walk it.  It is a place to let go of daily preoccupations, to consciously be present.  It is a project supported by the Cathedral Church of All Saints but offered to the community.

A little background might be in order.  During the tumultuous and painful events of the past several months – COVID-19, Portapique, the protests following the murder of George Floyd, the healing walks held for Chantal Moore and other missing and murdered Indigenous peoples, and so much more, it became increasingly apparent that we are not separate entities -what happens to one has a ripple effect on others.

With so many people in distress, and isolation easing somewhat,  the labyrinth is being set up weekly to provide a means to counteract stress and anxiety.    Here, we are able to breathe, walk, relax, meditate, pray.  It is a place of welcome for all.  Labyrinths are universal across cultures and faiths (or no faiths) and are tools for meditation, for mindfulness, for healing, for wellness.

We chose Victoria Park for its proximity to hospitals,  universities and shopping areas in an area where many people travel on foot.  It is a tranquil location under a canopy of trees that provides shade and promotes an awareness of creation.  In this space of harmony, we are able to renew ourselves.  It is also a place to listen to the stories of others, to perhaps be more ok with being “uncomfortable” with new viewpoints, ideas.

We are distancing, allowing one person or “household” group on the labyrinth at one time, using masks, if needed, for conversation.  We ask people to remove their shoes to protect the labyrinth.

Coronavirus Update #36 – post-secondary update, HRCE school facility rental update

I know a lot of residents are concerned about both out of bubble students as well as the potential for COVID transmission at parties and gatherings.

From what I’ve seen the universities all have the same messaging and it is very strong.

Out of Province  and testing
As you have heard in the news students from out of province will have to isolate for 14 days and be tested for COVID three times.

Students will receive the email with their clinic date/times locations etc as attached from the booking office with what they need to do.

If a student requires support to get to and from the clinic (lives off-campus, outside of walking/cycling distance) they will respond to the email that they require transportation support. Some students for short radius may walk or cycle, those beyond will have a cab provided, transit use is not permitted.

The messaging is clear on the expectations while in isolation, and what is not permitted.

Social Gatherings and Parties
Public health rules and directions apply to students. For example:

  • Everyone must stay 2 metres / 6 feet apart unless they are in the same household or a close social group of up to 10 people
  • Masks must be worn on public transportation:
    • municipal transit buses and ferries
    • school buses
    • motorcoaches (except those that provide charters or tours)
    • transit vehicles o private taxis and shuttles
  • Masks must be worn in most indoor public places – on campus, that means public areas such as the library, student union building or common areas of a faculty building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences.

Full student info sheet here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19_post-secondary_fact_sheet.pdf

So there should be no ragers as we may sometimes see during the back to school period, but students will still be able to gather 10 at a time with the same folks per these rules.

If you feel a gathering is exceeding these guidelines please report it to the Halifax Regional Police via police non-emergency 902.490.5020.

No use of HRCE School Facilities
Nova Scotia’s Back to School plan has several, layered public health measures in place when students and staff return to school. This includes limiting the number of outside visitors in school building. The plan also states that, “Use of schools after hours by other organizations will be limited.”

To support the plan and protect our shared health, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education will not accommodate external evening bookings of school facilities for the period between September 2020 and December 2020, we will reassess through the fall and work with our recreation partners to create a plan for safe access to the schools. We look forward to welcoming groups back into our facilities when it is safe to resume this practice.

How can we help?

Call my office
Call my office for assistance with your municipal issues.  You can reach my Coordinator Liam MacSween during the business day, his phone number is 902-490-2012 and his email is macswel@Halifax.CA

311 – HRM’s Call Centre
HRM’s call centre is open 7 days a week, Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to respond to routine inquiries and complaints from HRM residents. Please use this service since it helps HRM keep track of issues that are of concern for residents (missed solid waste pickup, sidewalks not cleared, transit info or complaints, etc.) For more information please visit http://www.halifax.ca/311/

Regional Council Reports and Agendas
If you want to read reports coming to Regional Council (posted mid-day Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting) or to check the agenda please go to: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/regional-council

Halifax and West Community Council Reports and Agendas
Community Council meets on Tuesday evenings that alternate with Regional Council. Please check the webpage here for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations and times. https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/community-councils/halifax-west-community-council

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Council Reports and Agendas
Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee meets once a month to discuss and provide feedback to council on planning proposals for the three districts on the peninsula. Please check the webpage for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations and times: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/boards-committees-commissions/h/halifax-peninsula-planning-advisory-committee

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