Elevating Housing and Social Policy in the Halifax Region

Halifax has often been called a mid-size city with big-city housing problems. Recent population growth and the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbate the lack of access to affordable housing, with a marked increase in homelessness. This presentation will share the city’s experience of moving from playing a minimal role in housing to taking a leadership position in housing studies, policies, partnerships, and developing local solutions to the “housing crunch.” We will discuss how several years of building community understanding and growing calls for social justice have led the municipality to address today’s rapid growth and change, stretch its mandate, and consider equity and access more fully in planning policies. This includes recent efforts to update and simplify planning policies, increase housing supply, remove barriers to many forms of housing, and support the non-profit sector.

Towards Intensification: Understanding the Barriers

Like many Canadian cities, Regina has set a policy agenda to attract a greater share of population growth and development to the existing urbanized area (intensification). However, despite a major shift in policy nearly a decade ago, Regina has failed to implement its 30% annual intensification target and is lagging behind on its target of attracting 10,000 new residents to the city centre. This presentation explores why both policy objectives are failing to meet their goals – or what factors are driving further evidence of the ‘say-do-gap’ and share the key findings that have emerged through a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with Regina’s planning and development industry, highlighting the most significant barriers to implementing the City’s intensification objectives. Moreover, we speculate on possible solutions to the ‘say-do-gap.’