Nova Scotia

HRM to discuss allowing backyard suites, basement apartments in residential areas

Changes to allow backyard suites or basement apartments in residential areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality will be considered on Tuesday.

Virtual public hearing scheduled for Tuesday night

Halifax council will look at changes that would allow backyard suites or basement apartments in residential areas of the municipality. (Robert Short/CBC)

Changes to allow backyard suites or basement apartments in residential areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality will be considered on Tuesday.

Single-family houses, townhouses and duplexes would be allowed to have either a backyard suite with a maximum of 90 square metres or a part of the house could be converted into a separate unit with a maximum of 80 square metres.

Dartmouth Coun. Sam Austin said he regularly gets calls from people who want to convert part of their house and are surprised that it is not allowed.

"Every month or two there'll be someone who will contact me wondering about a secondary unit to help with mortgage or for an aging parent to move in," said Austin.

Halifax Coun. Shawn Cleary has also heard from people who support the changes. But he said he's heard from many more people in the Armcrescent neighbourhood of his district who have concerns.

"If you increase the number of people living here will that increase traffic? Or if you allow backyard suites or a basement apartment could students live there and will there be noise?" he said.

Cleary said some people also have privacy issues when it comes to backyard suites.

In his latest newsletter, Coun. Waye Mason noted that "some people are surprised by how permissive the existing rules on the peninsula are already" when it comes to secondary suites.

Planners have been working on the proposal since 2017.

A virtual public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday night. If more time is needed, public presentations and council debate will continue on Thursday night.

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