The town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, has adopted new planning rules it hopes will address a local housing crunch.
Mayor Matt Risser said he gets asked “on a daily basis” regarding places to live.
“If you don’t allow more supply to be provided … that makes it difficult for Lunenburg to be an affordable place to live,” said Risser. “Obviously the town’s not going to be the builder, but hopefully moving in this new direction will alleviate those issues.”
The new land-use and subdivision bylaws will permit, for the first time, 6-storey mid-rise buildings to be constructed in the areas of the town outside its heritage district.
The changes will additionally eliminate the requirement for a minimum amount of parking and streamline the town’s zoning to permit more as-of-right development, which means construction projects could proceed without extra permissions.
The new bylaws are the first phase of proposed changes based on 3 years of community consultation.
The second phase will update the planning rules within the heritage district. Lunenburg is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site based on its unique architecture.
Risser said the town’s heritage will go on to enjoying protection, but that does not mean development of vacant land between existing buildings cannot happen to create more housing.
“We’ll be balancing the need to evolve while preserving the heritage value,” said Risser. “I think for the long-term viability of towns; density is the most important thing to be doing.”
The update on the heritage planning rules could take another year, as per Risser.