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Hold-out Halifax approves secondary suites

September 9, 2020

Halifax is among the last major Canadian cities to approve secondary suites for single-family detached houses, townhouses and duplexes.
In late August, Halifax Regional Council unanimously approved changes to planning rules across the municipality that will allow what are often known as “mortgage-helper” rentals in existing homes.
Councillors were generally convinced the move would help provide more affordable housing, increase the vacancy rate in the municipality and offer homeowners a source of income to help with their mortgages, according to Halifax-based The Chronicle Herald.
Council voted on the proposal after a three-hour virtual public hearing, where more than half the speakers were opposed to the plan.
Speaker Bill Campbell told Council that other Canadian municipalities that allow secondary and backyard suites also have design standards and appeal processes—these are not included in Halifax's new planning rules.
"Basically, you're allowing backyard suites and the secondary suites by right without any involvement of adjacent residents," said Campbell.
Opponents also raised concerns about parking, traffic and setbacks from property lines.
Halifax municipal planners told Council that an online survey completed in 2017 showed 94 per cent of the 2,500) respondents were in favour of secondary suites and 84 per cent were in favour of backyard suites.
Concerns were also raised about secondary and backyard suites being used as short-term rentals  or Airbnbs. But planners said a report on regulating short-term rentals will be presented to council on September 22, The Chronicle Herald reported.

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