Nova Scotia

HRM council votes for construction bylaw changes

Halifax Regional Council voted in favour of a number of bylaw changes aimed to lessen the burden construction can haves on businesses, commuters and residents.

Changes aim to address concerns from businesses, residents and commuters

Bylaw changes approved by Halifax regional council aim to address complaints businesses made over construction. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Halifax regional council voted in favour of a number of bylaw changes aimed to lessen the burden construction can have on businesses, commuters and residents.

Halifax's Deputy Mayor Matt Whitman said the Tuesday vote was unanimous.

"The way the report was written, it would be hard not to support," said Whitman.

"It was a lot of great suggestions and ways to make things better. Things that maybe should have been in place all along … It was kind of a common sense, let's do things better finally for businesses."

Keeping existing businesses around

Some of these changes include creating a construction mitigation plan, alerting neighbours to changes, freeing up or providing wheelchair-accessible alternatives to blocked sidewalks, reducing the number of lost parking spaces and adding fines to help city staff enforce the new rules.

There's always room for more … we can do better, but this is definitely a good step.- Matt Whitman

Another change is fining developers between $100 and $5,000 for breaking the encroachment bylaw.

"There's so much boom happening right now, we have to do a better job making sure existing businesses prosper and not disappear while new businesses are being built," said Whitman.

Room for improvement

Halifax Deputy Mayor Matt Whitman says there's always room for more improvement, but the bylaw changes are a good first step. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

At least five businesses near the under-construction Nova Centre have threatened legal action against the developer and all three levels of government, saying they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue because of the construction.

Whitman said the proposal could have gone further to help businesses, but that it's a start.

Going forward, Whitman said these changes should help reduce some of the stress that comes with heavy construction.

"There's always room for more … we can do better, but this is definitely a good step," Whitman said.

With files from Rachel Ward