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  #61  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 12:36 PM
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A quick google reveals that there were circa 2600 Airbnb units in Halifax the summer of 2019. I wonder how many of the protesters at the recent rent control protest have used an Airbnb? I wonder how many have used Uber or other IT 'solution' web based services that impair us (WE the government not THEY) from colleting sufficient tax dollars to provide market cost units for people in need.
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  #62  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Good Baklava View Post
If you’ve read the earlier posts you can see the supply was recently decreased on this project.

Even then, while this valid point has repeatedly been stated I would shy away from calling it a simple concept. An earlier landlord poster gave his view that supply stops housing from getting too expensive, but doesn’t substitute for true affordable housing. Let me raise just one problem with restricting our lens to supply: what about those who purchase a second or third property in speculation and exhaust that supply? This scenario isn’t novel and has played out across multiple cities around the world.
There's less speculation in markets where huge gains coming from housing appreciation aren't the norm.
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  #63  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 1:15 PM
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Well, it's unlikely that a "speculative" purchase sits empty. Unless it was purchased to be redeveloped, it remains part of the supply of housing stock and would be expected to be offered on the rental market at whatever rental price the market would support. It may be useful for those in planning schools to have a mandatory course on economics and in particular how the housing market works, if they are going to be recommending regimes that can have a great impact on the housing market in a community.
Yes, but ownership?
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  #64  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 1:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Citizen_Bane View Post
A quick google reveals that there were circa 2600 Airbnb units in Halifax the summer of 2019. I wonder how many of the protesters at the recent rent control protest have used an Airbnb? I wonder how many have used Uber or other IT 'solution' web based services that impair us (WE the government not THEY) from colleting sufficient tax dollars to provide market cost units for people in need.
Well, the greater the reach of government via taxation measures into an individual's ability to generate wealth, the more creative people will become in ways to avoid the icy grasp of government. Things like AirBnBs and Uber are paradigm shifts that are enabled via technology, but they tap into the dissatisfaction of some/many with the traditional ways of providing those services, which is due in part to excess govt regulation and taxation. I do find myself wondering how many of those 2600 AirBnBs you cite are actually used for that purpose on a regular basis, but clearly Uber has found a market.
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  #65  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 3:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Citizen_Bane View Post
A quick google reveals that there were circa 2600 Airbnb units in Halifax the summer of 2019. I wonder how many of the protesters at the recent rent control protest have used an Airbnb? I wonder how many have used Uber or other IT 'solution' web based services that impair us (WE the government not THEY) from colleting sufficient tax dollars to provide market cost units for people in need.
I don’t yet know enough about rent control to stand firmly behind it, although remain curious to learn about its benefits and drawbacks. I think renters and hotel operators alike both have valid reasons for disliking Airbnb as well.

If this utopian path to an affordable housing market for owners and renters, all while encouraging sizeable profits for developers was easily fixed by pumping out supply en masse, every party involved would do their best to make that happen from the outset. S&D is a valid explanation, but not a complete solution.

That’s why I’m sceptical about Killam’s complaints when they’ve clearly had a very good year. I like their work on this project, and I imagine they’ll be lovely units. However, it’s in bad taste to play on the local housing crisis to promote your business.
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  #66  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 5:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Well, the greater the reach of government via taxation measures into an individual's ability to generate wealth, the more creative people will become in ways to avoid the icy grasp of government. Things like AirBnBs and Uber are paradigm shifts that are enabled via technology, but they tap into the dissatisfaction of some/many with the traditional ways of providing those services, which is due in part to excess govt regulation and taxation. I do find myself wondering how many of those 2600 AirBnBs you cite are actually used for that purpose on a regular basis, but clearly Uber has found a market.
People love to crap on Airbnb for having a negative impact on the affordable housing market, but let's not pretend that the reasons for Airbnb's success are not valid. Look at what you get from an Airbnb that you don't get from typical hotels:

- Larger selection of locations. In most cities, hotels are concentrated in a handful of areas and you can have huge sections of the city that are underserved. A neighborhood like Montreal's Plateau is very attractive for tourists but there are basically no hotels there.
- The ability for groups to stay together in one unit. This is valuable when traveling with family or friends.
- Fully equipped kitchens. Available in some hotels, but not really the norm.
- Different amenities: Perhaps a private yard, a large deck, hot tub, pool tables, etc.

Airbnb delivered these features to its customers and for hotels to keep up they will need to shift their business models.
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  #67  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 5:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Well, it's unlikely that a "speculative" purchase sits empty. Unless it was purchased to be redeveloped, it remains part of the supply of housing stock and would be expected to be offered on the rental market at whatever rental price the market would support.
Around here we have an "empty homes" tax. If you own property that is not your primary residence, you need to prove that somebody is living there.

As far as I can tell the tax made little difference and the % of homes sitting empty was probably pretty low. The cap rates on most condos are quite poor and speculators who buy them to let them sit empty will lose money quickly. Now we all have to fill out extra paperwork and if it's screwed up there's a potential for a huge bill that needs to be corrected. I am not sure why most need to fill in these forms and give them to the province when we also give them our provincial income tax return with our address on it but that's how it works. I wonder if it brings in more than the administration costs. Those who do really want an empty home can pretty easily arrange for family members to live separately on paper, occupying multiple large mansions worth millions if they wish.

Halifax specifically also has a large proportion of rental building construction. These are built to be rented out. The operators do not want them to sit empty. So I think this whole line of reasoning is pretty suspect. The bulk of the more affordable housing supply will be older market-rate rental buildings or large-scale housing projects.
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  #68  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 8:16 PM
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I think we've come to the point where zoning needs to be mandated by the province. Japan does not have an affordability problem to the level we do, and it's partly due to their zoning laws (federal). If there is a provincial body set up to speed up the process of rezoning that circumvents a lot of municipal red tape and NIMBYism then it can only help.

The other issue is transit. Halifax simply cannot grow much further without metro LRT. Are there anyone in-the-know about the LRT situation? Is it still at best at feasibility stage of deadlock? The federal government has their whole sights set on infrastructure spending yet I have not seen much about provincial and municipal lobbying for upcoming funds to get it under full swing.
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  #69  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 8:20 PM
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I think we've come to the point where zoning needs to be mandated by the province. Japan does not have an affordability problem to the level we do, and it's partly due to their zoning laws (federal). If there is a provincial body set up to speed up the process of rezoning that circumvents a lot of municipal red tape and NIMBYism then it can only help.
I wonder if this would really be better for Halifax. It may make sense in a big country with many metropolitan areas. But NS is basically rural outside of Halifax so urban concerns are pretty far down the overall provincial priorities. I think part of why Halifax has so many highways and so little transit is that the NS provincial government can build highways serving the whole province, while transit is largely Halifax-specific and so is a tougher sell.

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The other issue is transit. Halifax simply cannot grow much further without metro LRT. Are there anyone in-the-know about the LRT situation?
People who live there will know more about the reality of construction on the ground but the BRT project looks pretty good and more ambitious than usual.

LRT I think is challenging for Halifax because it's hard to find a single route that serves a large portion of the metropolitan area. I don't think it's a coincidence that the BRT proposal started with a bunch of routes; I think you need a coherent system of many routes in Halifax to have a good system. Maybe one of these routes can be upgraded over time. I could see this happening faster than what currently looks feasible if growth keeps up. I could also see some underground portions of the transit network being attractive. I think Cogswell might be a bit of a missed opportunity if no thought is given to future tunnels.
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  #70  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 8:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Antigonish View Post
I think we've come to the point where zoning needs to be mandated by the province. Japan does not have an affordability problem to the level we do, and it's partly due to their zoning laws (federal). If there is a provincial body set up to speed up the process of rezoning that circumvents a lot of municipal red tape and NIMBYism then it can only help.
God, no. Municipal govt is closest to the ground, so to speak, and should be better-positioned to understand the issues and make good decisions on things like this, certainly more so than the ponderous, unproductive, and underperforming provincial bureaucracy. But as you say, HRM has some very poor and excruciatingly slow processes of their own, which is a problem they need to fix. There is no way these things should be so slow. The HRM bureaucracy is overly large and far too expensive to support, the planning dept is staffed with the wrong people in many cases, focusing on the wrong things much of the time, and they have zero sense of urgency. That all needs to change.

Quote:
The other issue is transit. Halifax simply cannot grow much further without metro LRT. Are there anyone in-the-know about the LRT situation? Is it still at best at feasibility stage of deadlock? The federal government has their whole sights set on infrastructure spending yet I have not seen much about provincial and municipal lobbying for upcoming funds to get it under full swing.
LRT is not going to happen in our lifetimes.
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  #71  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 9:05 PM
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I wonder if this would really be better for Halifax. It may make sense in a big country with many metropolitan areas. But NS is basically rural outside of Halifax so urban concerns are pretty far down the overall provincial priorities. I think part of why Halifax has so many highways and so little transit is that the NS provincial government can build highways serving the whole province, while transit is largely Halifax-specific and so is a tougher sell.
I guess I look at the zoning concept with a province-wide scope albeit metro Halifax might be the biggest focus of that. This province has a number of other areas that are great for growth but there isn't a cohesive effort to centralize those plans. Metro Halifax (I feel) needs that external authority to help pick up the pace; obviously a provincial zoning body would have to work alongside HRM to assure an agreed upon plan but other regions need this too.

Take Antigonish for example: The town has an enormous amount of potential for sustainable growth. It already has a population density of 2,400/sq mile and is very walkable, with adjacent greenfield land to the west/north to integrate but as far as I'm aware the town+county still does not have a unified regional plan and the zoning is completely fucked because of it. You can find suburban development that is directly outside the invisible line of town/county borders and the development isn't cohesive and detrimental to unified growth vs sprawl. Unfortunately the town+county do not have the finances to fund a planning/zoning department, the only guy I knew who worked as a municipal planner here had his job terminated and I think he works consulting for a firm in Dartmouth now to pay the bills. A province-wide department helps this considerably.

Quote:
People who live there will know more about the reality of construction on the ground but the BRT project looks pretty good and more ambitious than usual.

LRT I think is challenging for Halifax because it's hard to find a single route that serves a large portion of the metropolitan area. I don't think it's a coincidence that the BRT proposal started with a bunch of routes; I think you need a coherent system of many routes in Halifax to have a good system. Maybe one of these routes can be upgraded over time. I could see this happening faster than what currently looks feasible if growth keeps up. I could also see some underground portions of the transit network being attractive. I think Cogswell might be a bit of a missed opportunity if no thought is given to future tunnels.
My only gripe about BRT is that even with signal priority those buses still have to share the roads with vehicles and still prone to congestion. The next problem is marketing. Nobody wants to take the bus in a 50/50 choice scenario, only unless someone does not have a vehicle and has no choice it is improbable to convince more riders to try BRT. Hell, the "rapid" busses themselves aren't even different from standard busses, unless there is some super duper rocket powered new quirky rapid busses I'm unaware of. If we're going to do the BRT thing why not at least pony up the extra cash for trams instead? People will absolutely ride a tram even if it's marginally faster than a rapid bus. They are smooth, sexy, "European", hell I guarantee even Keith P. would ride it even if only a few times for the novelty.

But yeah, tunneling is the biggest financial hurdle to the Dartmouth side. Why not start a phase 1 which goes from downtown -> west end -> wrap the abandoned rail corridor from Bayers Road then up through Dunbrack/Clayton Park with park & ride at Bayers Lake for the exurban commuters? We gotta start somewhere, then zone TOD around that and give developers the green light to chuck their money in knowing they have solidified infrastructure in place that won't move on a whim like BRT routes.
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  #72  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 9:20 PM
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God, no. Municipal govt is closest to the ground, so to speak, and should be better-positioned to understand the issues and make good decisions on things like this, certainly more so than the ponderous, unproductive, and underperforming provincial bureaucracy. But as you say, HRM has some very poor and excruciatingly slow processes of their own, which is a problem they need to fix. There is no way these things should be so slow. The HRM bureaucracy is overly large and far too expensive to support, the planning dept is staffed with the wrong people in many cases, focusing on the wrong things much of the time, and they have zero sense of urgency. That all needs to change.



LRT is not going to happen in our lifetimes.
I'm a cynic like you but I have to ask, what has your experience with HRM's planning dept like? I've been out west for so long I kinda fell out of the loop.
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  #73  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 10:59 PM
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Take Antigonish for example: The town has an enormous amount of potential for sustainable growth. It already has a population density of 2,400/sq mile and is very walkable, with adjacent greenfield land to the west/north to integrate but as far as I'm aware the town+county still does not have a unified regional plan and the zoning is completely fucked because of it.
A lot of small towns around NS have bad planning, with a lackluster town centre area and then sprawl outside. And then there are some towns like Chester or Lunenburg that are very picky about what they allow to the point where most proposals seem to get cancelled.

Truro and the Kentville/Wolfville area seem to be at a happy medium although they both have their sprawl.
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  #74  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2020, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Antigonish View Post
I think we've come to the point where zoning needs to be mandated by the province. Japan does not have an affordability problem to the level we do, and it's partly due to their zoning laws (federal). If there is a provincial body set up to speed up the process of rezoning that circumvents a lot of municipal red tape and NIMBYism then it can only help.

The other issue is transit. Halifax simply cannot grow much further without metro LRT. Are there anyone in-the-know about the LRT situation? Is it still at best at feasibility stage of deadlock? The federal government has their whole sights set on infrastructure spending yet I have not seen much about provincial and municipal lobbying for upcoming funds to get it under full swing.
I agree, we’ve got our Ministry of Municipal Affairs here in Ontario and it delivers some much needed guidance to even the smallest townships. Most developed countries have a federal department which Canada lacks, perhaps that’s what comes with being a federation like Russia or the U.S. as opposed to a unitary state like Japan, France and the U.K. However, Japan has a declining population so their urban growth and housing affordability aren’t comparable to us.

I don’t see LRT becoming a thing back home, despite how nice it would be to have. Halifax mused the possibility of a commuter rail but that’s a totally different breed. The two proposed ferry routes to Bedford make me think the city has given up on rail for now. Waterloo’s LRT has been open for a year, and the effects on urban development have been phenomenal, but we have it much easier with flat topography. If Halifax tried something similar it would probably turn out like an Ottawa styled nightmare of over budget tunnels and overpasses. We would be lucky to even get a tram on the peninsula, let alone a metro-wide LRT.
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Last edited by Good Baklava; Nov 11, 2020 at 12:17 AM.
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  #75  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2020, 12:11 AM
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My only gripe about BRT is that even with signal priority those buses still have to share the roads with vehicles and still prone to congestion. The next problem is marketing. Nobody wants to take the bus in a 50/50 choice scenario, only unless someone does not have a vehicle and has no choice it is improbable to convince more riders to try BRT. Hell, the "rapid" busses themselves aren't even different from standard busses, unless there is some super duper rocket powered new quirky rapid busses I'm unaware of. If we're going to do the BRT thing why not at least pony up the extra cash for trams instead? People will absolutely ride a tram even if it's marginally faster than a rapid bus. They are smooth, sexy, "European", hell I guarantee even Keith P. would ride it even if only a few times for the novelty.
True BRT has its own ROW separated from traffic similar to a rail line. Beyond being cheaper, they have the added advantage of being easily upgraded to LRT as ridership increases. You just need a classic bus and the ROW lets you zoom past traffic. I’ve had the chance to ride the new system in Gatineau and it’s definitely cutting travel times between Hull and Gatineau proper. I actually think it was built on an abandoned freight line, because it reused an old iron bridge.
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  #76  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2020, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Good Baklava View Post
True BRT has its own ROW separated from traffic similar to a rail line. Beyond being cheaper, they have the added advantage of being easily upgraded to LRT as ridership increases. You just need a classic bus and the ROW lets you zoom past traffic. I’ve had the chance to ride the new system in Gatineau and it’s definitely cutting travel times between Hull and Gatineau proper. I actually think it was built on an abandoned freight line, because it reused an old iron bridge.
My biggest concern about this is that the street network in (peninsula) Halifax can't be widened/expanded any further. If the goal is dedicated ROW just go straight to tram/LRT. If upgrades are depended on increased ridership it might flop because taking a bus = do you have a DUI or something? The stigma of riding the bus as an option has such a negative effect I doubt many will buy the "rapid" appeal.

Maybe I should stop second guessing
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  #77  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2020, 1:17 AM
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My biggest concern about this is that the street network in (peninsula) Halifax can't be widened/expanded any further. If the goal is dedicated ROW just go straight to tram/LRT. If upgrades are depended on increased ridership it might flop because taking a bus = do you have a DUI or something? The stigma of riding the bus as an option has such a negative effect I doubt many will buy the "rapid" appeal.
Realistically I think a big part of what will change is more people who work on the peninsula will live on the peninsula, while some suburbs will also develop more and more people will spend most of their time off the peninsula.

Part of this just has to do with being a metro area approaching 500,000. Back when Halifax had 250,000 it was easier for people to travel to most of the main parts of the metro, and the peripheral parts of the metro were too small to have many of their own amenities. In the GTA people rarely travel far across the west and east suburbs, and there are many different "full service" suburbs.
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  #78  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2020, 3:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Good Baklava View Post
True BRT has its own ROW separated from traffic similar to a rail line. Beyond being cheaper, they have the added advantage of being easily upgraded to LRT as ridership increases. You just need a classic bus and the ROW lets you zoom past traffic. I’ve had the chance to ride the new system in Gatineau and it’s definitely cutting travel times between Hull and Gatineau proper. I actually think it was built on an abandoned freight line, because it reused an old iron bridge.
Yes, the corridor is that of an old freight rail line, though the tracks are still there so not abandoned.

It has a mix of grade separations and traffic signals (with bus priority) in spots where it crosses the regular road network.
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  #79  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2020, 7:30 PM
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Old Posted Dec 15, 2020, 2:27 AM
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