Nova Scotia

Halifax council agrees to amend land-use rules for Motherhouse development

Halifax regional council has cleared another hurdle for the Southwest Properties development proposed for the former Sisters of Charity Motherhouse site in Rockingham.

Some residents oppose 3,000-unit Seton Ridge because of traffic congestion, environmental impact

The Seton Ridge project involves building 3,000 residential and assisted-living units for about 7,000 residents on the 30-hectare site. (Southwest Properties Ltd.)

Halifax regional council has approved land-use amendments needed to allow a major development behind Mount Saint Vincent University on the former site of the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse.

The project, called Seton Ridge, involves building 3,000 residential and assisted-living units for about 7,000 residents on the 30-hectare site.

Jim Spatz, the chairman of Southwest Properties, spoke at council Tuesday night and said about four per cent, about 120 of the units, will be affordable housing.

He did not say what would constitute affordable rents.

"As a developer, I have to say that the area of affordable housing is, from the municipal and provincial government's point of view, not well-defined," Spatz said.

"I can't give you a number today, but I think they will be significantly affordable. Really importantly … they'll be built like every other unit in the development, they'll be mixed through the development. It will be a socially integrated community that way."

People who live next to the property raised concerns at Tuesday night's meeting about the removal of a forest and the impact of traffic on the Bedford Highway.

Some councillors agreed the transit needed for the area is not yet in place.

But only Coun. Richard Zurawski voted against the proposal.

A report by city staff named several points in favour of the development including:

  • The site's strategic location near two high-frequency transit corridors, Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), the Canada Games Centre and a variety of shops and services.
  • The development opportunity supports planned investments in transit services and the municipal emphasis on encouraging transit-oriented developments.
  • A collector road that is designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, on-street parking and transit service is required to run through the centre of the community between the Bedford Highway and Lacewood Drive.
  • A heated pavement system using excess heat from MSVU is proposed to help mitigate the challenges associated with steep grades. However, after seven years, maintenance and repair of the road is switched over to the municipality. 
  • Three fully developed public parks are required to meet the recreation needs of residents and four pedestrian walkways connect the new community to surrounding neighbourhoods.

The multi-unit residential and mixed-use commercial and residential buildings are concentrated at the centre of the site, and have heights of six to 16 storeys.

The next step in the process will be for Southwest Properties to negotiate a development agreement with the municipality.

Read more articles from CBC Nova Scotia

With files from Pam Berman

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