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Commentary: Vacant Halifax lots and the reactive mess we are in

Jeffrey Biggar is an assistant professor at Dalhousie’s School of Planning

Empty lots in Halifax reflect the unintended consequence of plans to add more housing.

It’s hard to feel hopeful about progress when we see lots of underperforming land during an acute housing shortage. In response, municipal and provincial governments recently announced proposals for an empty lot tax and enabling legislation to dissuade developers from keeping their lots empty.

These kinds of measures are often a means to curb speculation so developers will build faster, but they miss the mark in today’s land market.

Construction, financial and labour costs have risen significantly and there is no sign of downward pressure on the market to lower costs and increase affordability. Development is a long process and demolition is the shortest and least costly. A tax would have to be significantly high to make a dent in the developer’s bottom line. …[Continue Reading]