New planning strategy aims to significantly increase downtown Dartmouth population

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WATCH: Downtown Dartmouth is about to undergo some major changes to how development takes place. The goal is to significantly increase the area's population. Alexa MacLean reports – Oct 24, 2018

While cranes have dominated Halifax’s skyline over the past few years, Dartmouth has been “trucking along” in population and development, according to Dartmouth Centre Coun. Sam Austin.

“Besides King’s Wharf there hasn’t been a whole lot of projects, and if you look at the population numbers it’s been basically holding steady,” Austin said.

Halifax has seen an increase in population that’s higher than the national average over the past few years .According to a June 2018 report from Halifax Partnership, the city has seen a population growth of 1.6 per cent over the past two years. The national growth rate sits at 1.2 per cent.

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The goal of the municipal planning department is to kickstart downtown Dartmouth into a booming area.

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To get that population ball moving, the goal is to roll out a new planning strategy.

“We’d like to see increased population ultimately which helps provide improvement for the businesses and so forth that are in downtown Dartmouth. Part of the larger regional centre and the ultimate growth in Halifax is to see additional growth because of the economic advancements and improvements that can come with such things,” said Eric Lucic, manager of regional planning with the municipality.

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Many new development proposals in Halifax have been met with public resistance to height but the new planning strategy for downtown Dartmouth isn’t focused on height restrictions.

Instead, development aims to be guided by a measure called floor area ratio.

“The floor area ratio is a measure by which you look at the size of your property and you look at the heights of your building and it’s directly in relation to the size of your property so how tall you can go really comes into play with respect to how big your property is,” Lucic said.

According to Lucic, the current plan allows developers to negotiate heights ranging from 15 to 30 storeys.

While the new plan won’t include necessary height restrictions, Lucic says it will set a standard that can help avoid excessive heights.

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“In the core area where they want to see the growth, they’ve assigned a ground floor area ratio target, a density target, to every lot. So, people have some freedom to decide how best to arrange that density and then for the areas that are closer to the established neighbourhoods, there’s actually still a height limit,” Austin said.

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