Highlights from Tuesday’s regular meeting of Halifax Regional Council include a plan for 137 new affordable housing units in HRM, a doubled housing grant program and a mobile shower pilot that’s supposed to start this week.
During the Sep 28 meeting, council doubled the amount it will spend on an affordable housing grant from $200,000 to $400,000—though the program has yet to pay out. The program requires developers of large projects to pay into an affordable housing fund to be used as grants for nonprofits building or maintaining affordable housing. This boost was recommended in a report by city planner Jillian MacLellan. The extra cash will come from a planning and development surplus.
By Oct 1 a shower facility will be made available somewhere in the HRM through the city’s nine-week mobile shower pilot, a motion put forward by councillor Tony Mancini. The Dartmouth councillor amended this motion to ask that city staff create a report to consider purchasing a permanent shower trailer. The municipality will be renting one for nine weeks for $17,000 during the pilot.
The Halifax Library and Mainline Needle Exchange are listed as partners with the city for delivering the shower facilities. HRM programs and engagement manager Lillian Ash said that Mainline and a city consultant will evaluate things like frequency of use to report back to the city how the pilot was received by the community.
During a September 29 press conference featuring mayor Mike Savage and the city’s assistant chief of emergency management, Erica Fleck, the city announced plans for 24 modular units which will urgently house 73 people. This $20 million project, funded by the federal government, will eventually create 137 affordable units.
The mayor acknowledged that this plan is “not perfect” but that it’s a step in the right direction towards supporting Halifax’s unhoused residents.
At the next council meeting the city will also vote on a motion to set public heritage hearing dates for two sites: the heritage homes at 5492 Inglis Street and 1262 Bedford Highway. Council will vote on proposed amendments to its rules on keeping hens in residential areas. This meeting will also include the first reading of the proposed Regional Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy and land use bylaw, which will act as the document that guides the growth and development of the urban core of Halifax. This lengthy document will cover plans to support housing, business, parks and the environment.