Homes near Honda dealership can't be turned into parking lot, councillor says

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A Halifax councillor says three houses that a car dealership recently bought on May Street cannot be replaced with a parking lot.

"When I went back and talked to [HRM] staff, we realized that was one of things that was changed under the new Centre Plan," said Coun. Lindell Smith. "So they can still demolish them if they want, but it would be great if they didn't."

In 2016, the Steele Auto Group tore down 17 properties to expand the Colonial Honda car dealership along Robie Street. The move sparked a protest called Homes not Hondas.

Since then, new development rules have been adopted under the Centre Plan Package A that limit what can be done along May Street. Pages 50 and 51 lay out the rules: "Most car-oriented land uses that are not compatible with the intent of this plan to create a safe and human scale pedestrian-oriented environment in the centres shall not be permitted in the CEN zones, such as auto repair uses and dealerships."

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

"It says within the regulations that dealership uses are not allowed," said Smith. "So they couldn't put a service centre, a reception area or a parking lot."

In an email sent to CBC last Friday, the Steele Auto Group said it had "plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot." The company also said that "this part of Robie Street is home to several auto dealerships, service and repair centres."

Smith said while the expansion of the car dealership is not permitted, the houses could be replaced with another commercial business that is allowed, such as a hair salon. He added that because the rules are fairly new, the company may not have realized there were changes.

CBC has contacted the Steele Auto Group for a new comment but has not yet had a response.