It’s a new planning strategy that impacts growth and development for communities on both sides of the harbour and now, residents are starting to see what it may look like.
“We haven’t had a municipal planning strategy for Halifax or Dartmouth – holistically – since the seventies,” Jacob Ritchie, the urban design program manager for the municipality, said.
Richie and his team have been working on the Centre Plan since early 2015.
The comprehensive planning strategy is meant to serve as a new blueprint for the municipality to follow for development in the Halifax Peninsula and Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway.
This area has been identified as the Regional Centre and is a space the municipality is expecting to see significant change in over the next 15 years.
Ritchie said he believes laying out regulations and guidelines for this area will positively impact its residents.
“There’s an opportunity for housing here that might not require much reliance on cars or transit to get around,” he said. “Even though your housing costs might be a bit higher, you can really reduce your transportation costs by living close to things.”
The plan focuses on seven themes but much of the attention has been placed on new development.
It’s a focal point that many residents want the municipality to include the public voice in determining new bylaws and regulations.
“I’ve been knocking on a lot of doors for the election and people want to talk about the development that’s right for their community,” Kate Watson, a municipal election candidate for Dartmouth Centre, said. “They recognize that development is happening and for the most part, they agree that it’s positive but they want to make sure it fits with the buildings and architecture that’s already here.”
Ritchie said a new planning strategy will help guide all of the development so that it does match Halifax’s “historical flavour.”
“I think the fear is that we might build a city that we don’t recognize and what we want to do through the centre plan is bring in rules and regulations to make sure new buildings respect our cultural and historical past so that we can do something that is unique to our city,” he said.
Public feedback on the draft presentations of the Centre Plan will be accepted until Dec. 2.