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Halifax council votes to increase surplus properties to be used for affordable housing

Halifax Regional Council has voted in favour of increasing the number of surplus properties to be used for affordable housing opportunities.

“The land is very important. It’s absolutely significant, it’s one piece of the puzzle but it’s absolutely imperative,” Miia Suokonautio said, the executive director of YWCA Halifax.

Two surplus properties on Crichton Avenue in Dartmouth have been recategorized as affordable housing.

Alexa MacLean / Global Halifax

Councillors voted on whether to approve seven surplus properties as affordable housing opportunities.

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District 16 councillor, Tim Outhit, asked that one property be removed from the list to have staff further investigate potential uses for the site.

“I just want to make sure that it’s safe. Just to say that we have a housing shortage, or just to say that we need affordable housing, that every piece of land is suitable for residential development is not necessarily true,” Outhit said.

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He says one of his main concerns is ensuring that area residents are adequately informed of any potential changes to the property.

“First of all, the residents never had any heads up on this. Secondly, there is some significant Nova Scotia Power infrastructure abutting next to it,” he said.

Outhit says while he strongly supports increasing affordable housing opportunities through surplus land, he wants to ensure properties are adequately vetted by staff.

“Affordable housing does not mean anything, everywhere, under any circumstances. What it means is that we want to have affordable housing but we still want to make sure that that land is suitable for residential development,” Outhit said.

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31 Lister Drive is currently zoned under Park and is the former site of St. Paul’s Home for Girls, which at one point operated as a home for orphaned girls, according to the parish website.

Suokonautio says using surplus land for affordable housing projects is a valuable asset but requires collaboration in order to be successful.

“Looking for partnerships between non-profits and for profits and that each partner is bringing their expertise in what they do. So, looking at those types of things is really valuable,” she said.

Suokonautio says those partnerships play a crucial role in addressing immediate housing crisis concerns.

“It’s good to see that that’s happening. It’s just it might take longer and it might need more support than the crisis requires,” she said.

Municipal staff will proceed with sharing online information about the surplus properties designated for affordable housing.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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