Backlands Coalition Response to the Housing Accelerator Fund Proposed Amendments 16Feb2024

Backlands Coalition Response to the Housing Accelerator Fund proposed amendments Regarding the Suburban Development Requests:

Our position reflects our values

Watersheds identified in Steeghs et al., 1994
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The mission of the Backlands Coalition: to ensure no loss of wildlife habitat in the Backlands and to preserve them for natural, historical, cultural, conservation, educational, recreational and common use. There are two major watersheds that are present in the Backlands, the Williams Lake Watershed and the McIntosh Run Watershed. We have an interest and a stewardship responsibility in maintaining the integrity of these two watersheds.

An unprecedented degree of development and growth is slated for Spryfield. We are very aware that growth is necessary in our area. We believe that growth should enhance the community, enrich its character and promote sustainability. In addition to the Suburban Development Requests there are other site-specific requests and developments already approved for the Spryfield area. Each new request needs to be considered within the context of the whole Spryfield community and the capacity of the current infrastructure to support this growth.

Google Earth Map of The Backlands viewed on Google Earth
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Protecting the ecological vulnerabilities in these two watersheds assists HRM in meeting many important HalifACT and Green Network Plan objectives. Additionally, there should be recognition of the special value of these significant urban watersheds. Respect must be paid to the existence of the wildlands, parks and substantial watercourses.

Ideally, development and growth in Spryfield should take place on Brownfield sites and many of these sites exist along the Herring Cove Road. Brownfield sites are typically located in urban areas because they have been previously built upon. On the other hand, the Backlands and undeveloped lands on the west side of Herring Cove Road are Greenfield sites as the land has never been built upon.

Backlands Coalition supports a balance between needed development and the maintenance of the essential character of Spryfield. We support complete communities including:

  • Neighbourhoods with local schools
  • Goods and services within walking distance
  • Policies and development that value the natural world and its role in the lives of the people of Halifax
  • Planning should precede development
  • Adequate infrastructure to support a vibrant and healthy culture
  • Maximum density near the roads
  • Always include natural spaces with connectivity between these spaces
  • Increase residential density in order to conserve natural areas
  • A mix of housing types that includes affordable options
  • Encourage development along public transit corridors

For additional ideas about what the people of Spryfield want to see in their community consult this document. “Spryfield Vision: Shaping Spryfield’s Future Together,” December 8, 2009

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For more context, view Halifax Regional & Community Planning: Housing Accelerator Fund

“The municipality is facing significant challenges related to housing affordability and availability. Unprecedented population growth has led to a rising demand for housing that the current rate of residential construction cannot meet. As of 2023, the municipality’s housing shortage is estimated at almost 20,000 units – and the shortage is growing.

“As part of the federal Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) agreement, the municipality is proposing allowing a minimum of four units in all residential zones within the Urban Service Area to enable more housing development.

“Proposed Amendments
Regional Council has directed the CAO to expedite amendments to planning documents in the Regional Centre and Suburban Area to allow more dense housing development as-of-right.

“Residents can provide questions or feedback on the below amendments until Friday, February 16, 2024 to Any information shared with the municipality will be for the purposes of informing a report to Regional Council in March, 2024.”

The Backlands are a priceless Recreational Asset

Screen capture of Trails Map on HalifaxTrails. Click on image for larger version (accessed June 20, 2023)  View Google Map

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