Affordable housing provisions in Halifax's Centre Plan draw criticism

A public health team and an environmental group are both concerned about the affordable housing provisions in Halifax's latest version of the Centre Plan. 

The proposed development rules for the urban core were released in late March and say the municipality should explore ways to increase the number of affordable units.

But a member of the Ecology Action Centre says the policies aren't specific enough.

"There are some very strong intentions," said Jenny Lugar, the sustainable cities co-ordinator for the EAC. "Personally I would have liked to see a little more of a strong plan for implementation."  

Missed opportunities

The draft Centre Plan was also reviewed by a team of public health officials with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which reported that there are missed opportunities when it comes to affordable housing. 

It recommends including a policy statement on ways to keep units affordable after they've been repaired or upgraded. 
Lugar agrees. 

She points to the ongoing gentrification of Gottingen Street and its designation for growth in the report.  

"So it's worrisome that it's [listed] as a centre and that there's not really any strategies for the affordable housing that's there," said Lugar. "If there's even one demographic of people left out of this plan, then it's not doing its job."  

Density bonuses

The public health assessment of the Centre Plan is part of Tuesday's regional council agenda.    

The Ecology Action Centre is working on a response to the Centre Plan, which planners hope will be adopted by the end of 2017.  

Halifax has already committed to a goal of 5,000 affordable housing units in five years.  Developers in certain areas of the city will also qualify for "density bonuses" that allow them to build taller buildings if they designate some units as affordable housing. 

The city also plans to work with the United Way on an anti-poverty strategy.