Halifax councillor seeks changes after demolition starts before tenant vacates building

·3 min read

A Halifax councillor wants better co-ordination between the city and the province around demolition permits.

This comes after Mosaik Properties began to tear down a building while a tenant was still living there. The tenant had been appealing an eviction order.

The city has since revoked the demolition permit.

Shawn Cleary, the councillor for Halifax West Armdale, said the "egregious" situation made it clear that there was no alignment between the city's demolition permit process and the provincial residential tenancies board, which looks after evictions.

"And so it would be, I think, very appropriate for us to not issue a demolition permit until we have some sort of indication from the residential tenancies board that any evictions in a building are complete and legal, including any appeals that the tenants have a right to do," said Cleary, whose district is adjacent to the Mosaik Properties building.

"Once that's complete, then I could see a demolition permit being appropriate to give to a developer, but until such a time, I don't think we can do that."

Cleary intends to bring forward a motion at Tuesday's council meeting asking for a staff report on a bylaw that would create a permit process covering demolitions of buildings that include leased units.


Cleary's motion notes that the Nova Scotia Building Code Act provides the authority for municipalities to make bylaws "providing for applications for permits and requiring the applications to be accompanied by such plans, specifications, documents and other information as is prescribed."

That would mean the city could ask the province for documentation on the status of evictions, it said.

City has 'lack of authority' when it comes to housing

While Cleary said the case of demolition permits boils down to a lack of co-ordination with the province, he said other housing issues — like low vacancy rates and a lack of affordable housing — aren't the city's jurisdiction.

The city has some control when it comes to land-use planning, said Cleary, so it can do things like create municipal planning strategies and land-use bylaws, sell land below cost to affordable housing developments, and create categories for land to be used for affordable housing.

However, the city doesn't actually build or manage housing, he said.

"So this is one of those areas where it's not about a lack of connection, it's about a lack of authority the city has when it comes to housing," he said.

Regulations needed for rock crushing, Cleary says

Cleary is also bringing a motion to council asking city staff to look at a permit process for rock breaking and crushing for landscaping and site-preparation work.

Some of Cleary's constituents who live on a normally quiet street have complained about noisy jackhammering from an excavator clearing the way for a new house to be built on Armshore Drive, near the Armdale Roundabout.

Paul Palmeter/CBC
Paul Palmeter/CBC

While there are laws regulating blasting, Cleary said there aren't any for crushing and breaking rocks.

"There's nothing that we can do specifically around rock crushing or breaking to prevent what's happening or to put some time frame around it, so it's appropriate now that we look into it and see what can be done," he said.

The motion is asking for a staff report considering the environmental impact of rock breaking and crushing — such as air quality, dust mitigation, and water protection — as well as noise issues, the duration of the rock crushing, and whether or not the projects should be reviewed by a municipal engineer or someone with the province.

Cleary said as Halifax attracts more immigrants and people moving from out-of-province, causing more development to happen, the lack of regulations around rock crushing and breaking will become a bigger problem as time goes on.

"It hasn't really been a huge issue until very recently," he said. "So as development pressure increases and more infill development will happen in the urban core, it'll be important to have some regulation around this."