‘This is not appropriate’: Mayor Savage calls provincial legislation ‘dangerous’

By Meghan Groff

Halifax's mayor says he was caught off guard by what he's calling “dangerous” legislation that would let the province to override some municipal bylaws in the name of development.

On Friday, Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr introduced amendments to the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter that would allow the province to nullify bylaws to “encourage faster housing construction.”

That nullification would need to come within six months of second reading of the bylaw.

“While we hope there will not be a situation where we have to use this authority, these amendments will allow the minister to intervene on behalf of Nova Scotians when bylaws are impeding housing development and construction,” Lohr said.

Mike Savage said he only heard about this change the night before it was introduced.

“In the scrum afterwards, the minister indicated it was largely around this noise bylaw and the impact he felt it would have on construction, particularly the building of houses,” the mayor told CityNews Halifax.

Last year, council approved a bylaw requiring construction noise to wrap up by 8 p.m. It had previously been allowed to continue until 9:30 p.m. 

“I proposed to leave it the way it was, but council voted that way,” Savage said. “I never heard anything from the province, any of the ministers, the premier's office or anybody.”

In fact, the mayor said he had breakfast with John Lohr a few weeks ago, and the minister didn't mention this being an issue.

“Then last Thursday night we got word that the province was going to bring legislation into the House the following day,” the mayor said.

Savage believes this move by the province is a dangerous use of power.

“I wouldn't be doing my job as mayor if I didn't point out this is not appropriate. I don't think it's democratic and I think it's dangerous,” he stated.

“It offends me. It's not the way government should be done in 2022.”

The mayor said he's written a letter inviting Lohr to come and speak to council.

“These are things we should be working on together,” Savage stated. “You're not working on things together if you bring in something like this without giving us a heads up.”

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