Now you know: regional centre plan edition

Now you know: regional centre plan edition

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Contributors:

Kathleen MacEachern, Policy Analyst, Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Nova Scotia’s regional centre, Halifax Regional Municipality, holds only 0.6 per cent of the land, but a little more than 24 per cent of the province’s population, with 40 per cent estimated economic growth in the area. The Halifax Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon with the municipality in January, where Carl Purvis, HRM’s Planning Applications Program Manager, spoke with member businesses about the positive impacts the regional centre plan would have for those in that 0.6 per cent of land.

We want you to be in the know, so here are five important things to know about the plan.

1. The regional centre plan assumptions were based on quantitative evidence and encompassed quality control checks with stakeholders, such as workshops, open houses, pop-up booths, emails and open-to-the- public meetings. Technical studies such as water capacity, housing needs and property assessments were done to ensure that the policy is used properly for direct growth in our city.

2. The centre plan is divided into four chapters (and policies) that will guide staff to the core concepts of the plan. Those chapters are:

• The Human Scale Design: promoting mixed-use development

• Complete Communities: people working and playing where they live

• Pedestrians First: this one is self- explanatory

• Strategic Growth: finding the best use of infrastructure such as parks and traffic

3. The plan will reduce the number of zones from 60-plus to 20, creating benefits that include increased clarity, ease of regulation and faster processing times. It also standardizes and modernizes definitions to reflect new voices and use plain English.

4. Everyone’s favourite topic of conversation: red tape. This will be reduced with the new plan. The plan features fewer land-use by-laws and policies (which will mean more staff efficiency), an increase to “as of-right” processes, a “web- ready” bylaw and a user guide aimed at both external and internal users. The simplified development agreement process will provide a clear framework to guide future plans and bylaw amendments.

5. The plan will provide mobility, transportation modernization and growth, focused strategically in areas with current and proposed high-frequency transit. The plan will also allow for business and economic development, increased housing affordability and focus on urban design.

What does this all mean?

The city is growing, that’s not difficult to see. New buildings, like the Nova Centre and the construction on the Halifax waterfront are visual examples of the changes happening in our city. To plan for our future and to make sure Halifax continues to grow economically, the regional centre plan will provide not only certainty to residents, businesses and the municipality but also flexibility. Developers will have shorter approval times, entrepreneurs will know where best to locate with the most pedestrian traffic and commutes may shorten based on new housing in economic centres.

The Chamber would like to thank our event sponsors: Cox & Palmer, Efficiency NS, Halifax, Cushman & Wakefield and Halifax Water. We would also love for you to check out the regional centre plan on the municipality’s website to see how it will impact your life, visit centreplan.ca.

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