Nova Scotia

Halifax considers developers’ plan to create new North End neighbourhood

Halifax has kicked off the planning process for a new neighbourhood in the north end that could see thousands of housing units built in an area currently dominated by businesses and car lots.

On Tuesday, Halifax regional council agreed to move ahead with plans for the Strawberry Hill Future Growth Node, which will see staff consider various zoning and land-use changes to allow for major development. 

The 4.9-hectare site falls along Strawberry Hill Street between Windsor Street and Kempt Road, and is next to the Windsor Street Exchange. Currently the land is home to a Steele car dealership, warehouses, the Salvation Army thrift store, and other commercial buildings near some residences along Windsor.

Three major property owners on the site have joined together to propose a vision for the area, which would include 14 mixed-use buildings ranging between eight and 42 storeys high that would create 3,656 housing units.

“When you look at what is the next generation, the next use for the property, residential was very, very obvious,” John Lindsay of East Port Properties said after the meeting Tuesday.

A view looking down Strawberry Hill Street in Halifax toward the Bedford Basin. (CBC)

Lindsay said East Port represents TD Greystone, who owns the largest chunk of land in the area. They, alongside Rob Steele of Dynamic Properties and developer Joe Ramia’s Rank Inc., are proposing the development with the Fathom Studio architectural firm.

The landowners are also suggesting a new street running through the site connecting Windsor Street and Connaught Avenue to Strawberry Hill.

“This is an opportunity to create a … small village, where thousands of people are in a location that is both on the peninsula but easy access out on the Bedford Highway, easy access to the bridge, and accessible by transit,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay said the group has been thinking about redeveloping the area for the past few years, as the city identified other future growth nodes like Mic Mac Mall and West End Mall.

But he said the timing is ideal because Halifax is considering changes under the federal government’s housing accelerator fund that would allow 40-storey buildings in some areas with the potential for more height in future growth nodes.

A black and white drawing of the street grid shows the growth node shaded in grey along Strawberry Hill
The Strawberry Hill Future Growth Node in Halifax covers about 12 acres, or nearly five hectares, in the city’s north end. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Area Coun. Lindell Smith said it’s important to remember the designs are only an early proposal.

“Those are what the landowners want, it’s not what they’ll get. This is a long process,” Smith said during the meeting.

It could take a decade before the new neighbourhood is in place and Lindsay said he doesn’t think the group of landowners will approach the province to request that the area be designated as a special planning area.

There are 11 of these sites around Halifax where the province has stepped in to take over the planning and development process from the municipality in the name of fast-tracking housing, and final decisions are not made in public. Recent legislation also gave the housing minister the power to approve development projects across the entire municipality.  

A computer drawing shows grey blocks of buildings clustered along a roadway and greenery, with the rest of the city in the background
Another view of the proposed buildings. (Fathom Studio)

“I believe in the city process,” Lindsay said. 

Infrastructure and environmental assessments will be conducted for the area along with public consultation. Following that, a development concept plan will be created before the plans come back to council.

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