ST. MARY’S – The Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing is advising the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s to be aware of its responsibilities to ensure the opportunity for development of small-option homes in the area.
The issue came up at council’s June 22 committee of the whole meeting, where housing measures of the new municipal planning strategy and land-use bylaw (MPS/LUB) were being discussed.
In a letter to council this month, the province noted that, “Nova Scotia is currently phasing out the use of large institutions like regional rehabilitation centres” because they are hazardous for persons with disabilities. “As a result, there is a need to expand the stock of small option homes across the province.”
According to the department’s website, small-option homes “provide support for three to four persons with disabilities” within communities. “Residents are supported by qualified staff through a combination of live-in and shift models.”
According to a presentation by the consultant hired by St. Mary’s, the draft MPS/LUB don’t contain any constraints on housing size or type. “There’s no minimum size, so things like tiny homes and all that kind of thing are just considered a dwelling,” said Ian Watson of Upland Planning and Design Studio of Dartmouth. “And then similarly, with mobile homes or modular homes, they would just be considered the same as a dwelling for those purposes.”
It was not clear, however, whether these definitions specifically included small-option homes. Any regulations that restrict residents’ access to these premises, including “lot geometry and structure,” are to be considered inconsistent with provincial policy, the letter from municipal affairs said.
Council, which is reviewing the MPS/LUB before sending it to a public hearing next month, noted the point. “So, basically, there is no limit where [these homes] can be put,” said Warden Greig Wier before adjourning.
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal