Nova Scotia is making major moves on the housing supply front -- and this includes much-needed affordable housing. 

Today, the Province announced it had identified 37 sites from the provincial land inventory that could be used to build housing, including affordable housing, for thousands of Nova Scotians.

And that's something to celebrate. Like many parts of the country, the east coast province has experienced a housing affordability crisis as of late -- something that's been fuelled in part by inflation and interprovincial migration -- and needs all the supply it can get.

“I made a commitment to Nova Scotians to identify provincial land to create more housing stock and these sites represent a potential future home for thousands of people,” said John Lohr, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a press release. “While there is still work that needs to be done on these sites, we know communities across the province need housing and this inventory now gives more options to increase supply.”

Five of the sites are ready for proposals: sites 29, 30 and 31 on Tremain Crescent, Windsor, West Hants; site 35 on Chapel, Mechanic and Elm streets, Springhill, Cumberland County; and site 38, including six residential lots, Liverpool, Queens County. In March, the Province also made a piece of land in downtown Dartmouth available for a mixed-use project that includes affordable housing. Proposals are currently being evaluated by Develop Nova Scotia.

Shutterstock 288465038View of downtown Halifax from Dartmouth with the waterfront and the Purdy's Wharf. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

A separate pilot project was announced last year for provincially owned lands at 1 Circassion Drive in Cole Harbour. The Dartmouth Non-Profit Housing Society was the successful proponent to support the construction of up to 18 new affordable units on that property. Planning is now underway, says the Province.

The Department continues to work on 31 of the sites to ensure housing suitability. When this work is approved, lands will be made available for proposals. Each site goes through a due diligence process, including environmental studies, traffic sight line studies and planning analysis, and considers access to services like sidewalks and schools.

Meanwhile, work continues on identifying additional parcels from the provincial land inventory, with future development proposals that include affordable housing given preference.

“I am pleased to see this process identify provincially owned land for housing development throughout the province, including some lots that are part of the Nova Scotia Lands portfolio,” said Kim Masland, Minister of Public Works. “This increased supply of land for housing will benefit these three communities and others in the future.” 

Other recent initiatives to cool Nova Scotia's housing market included a proposal for a non-resident property tax for homebuyers, which was ultimately abandoned just weeks after it was included as part of the recent provincial budget released on March 29.

The scrapping of the non-resident property tax doesn’t mean the loss of all newly proposed anti-speculation policies. The non-resident deed transfer tax was also introduced in the spring budget, and will continue on as planned. It came into effect on April 1 and requires non-resident homebuyers to pay a 5% tax on the purchase of a Nova Scotia residential property.

In attempt to maintain affordable housing stock, Nova Scotia also put a 2% rent cap in place, but that's set to expire at the end of 2023. So, now, all eyes are on increasing the affordable housing stock in the rapidly growing province -- and quickly.

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