Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives advance three bills to address housing crisis

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia passes legislation to take action on housing initiatives'
Nova Scotia passes legislation to take action on housing initiatives
WATCH: The PC government has introduced new legislation that will allow it to take action on the housing initiatives announced recently. That includes formalizing an agreement with Halifax to build more affordable housing and create better public transportation. Jesse Thomas reports. – Oct 28, 2021

Nova Scotia’s PC government is moving forward with legislation to address the housing crisis by introducing three bills at the legislature on Thursday.

The legislation includes bills that formalize an agreement between the province and Halifax Regional Municipality to work together to accelerate housing development and ensure proper transportation infrastructure is in place to meet these new growth targets.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr says he’s hopeful that with the passing of a new bill, a joint provincial and municipal housing task force can be set up by Christmas, which would bring both levels of government to the table to chart out a path to accelerate housing development options across the municipality.

“It’s about identifying places where we can immediately increase housing supply or work together to identify what the issues are that are holding approvals or holding up larger-scale development areas and working to see those get addressed,” said Lohr.

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The executive panel on housing will consist of a Chair appointed by the minister and two provincial members, along with two members appointed by the municipality.

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Halifax mayor Mike Savage says the municipality is on board with the task force plan.

“We share an interest in the province in increasing the supply of housing,” said Savage.

“We’ve been growing as a city and we’ve been taking measures to accommodate that growth in terms of housing and transportation and protection of greenspace and we really have a good plan and I think the new task force will take a look at those plans, but we’re open to being a part of this and making it work.”

A second bill will establish a joint regional transportation agency, allowing the province and HRM to work collaboratively with other existing transportation agencies

“We want to make sure in the growth that we are experiencing here in HRM that we don’t make mistakes like other cities have made,” said Public Works Minister Kim Masland. “And bringing everyone together, it’s very important that we are doing that future planning.”

Masland says the joint agency will create a five-year master transportation plan that will guide transportation as it relates to roads, bridges, ferries, transit, rail, airports and ports. but it’s too early to say if this meant the municipality will receive increased provincial funding for projects.

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“We need to make sure that we are doing the proper funding so there are no mistakes. When we make mistakes, it costs … money,” she said.

The final piece of legislation protects tenants against high rental increases in the form of a rental cap agreement, limiting annual rental increases to two per cent. It will remain in place until Dec. 21, 2023.

Click to play video: 'HRM waiting on province for emergency housing supports'
HRM waiting on province for emergency housing supports

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