6-storey buildings to be allowed in parts of Lunenburg to address housing crunch

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Lunenburg Mayor Matt Risser said the bylaw changes are designed to encourage the construction of more affordable housing. (Gary Yim/Shutterstock - image credit)
Lunenburg Mayor Matt Risser said the bylaw changes are designed to encourage the construction of more affordable housing. (Gary Yim/Shutterstock - image credit)

The town of Lunenburg, N.S., has adopted new planning rules it hopes will address a local housing shortage.

Mayor Matt Risser said he gets asked "on a daily basis" about places to live.

"If you don't allow more supply to be provided … that makes it difficult for Lunenburg to be an affordable place to live," said Risser. "Obviously the town's not going to be the builder, but hopefully moving in this new direction will alleviate those issues."

The new land-use and subdivision bylaws will allow, for the first time, six-storey mid-rise buildings to be constructed in the areas of the town outside its heritage district.

The changes will also eliminate the requirement for a minimum amount of parking as well as streamline the town's zoning to allow more as-of-right development, which means construction projects could go ahead without additional permissions.

The new bylaws are the first phase of proposed changes based on three years of community consultation.

The second phase will update the planning rules within the heritage district. Lunenburg is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site based on its unique architecture.

Risser said the town's heritage will continue to be protected, but that doesn't mean development of vacant space between existing buildings can't take place to create more housing.

"We'll be balancing the need to evolve while preserving the heritage value," said Risser. "I think for the long-term viability of towns, density is the most important thing to be doing."

According to Risser, the update of the heritage planning rules could take another year.

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