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Canada Post resists pitch to move Halifax sorting plant to allow for housing

The Liberal member of Parliament for Halifax is pushing for Canada Post to unload a prime plot of land in the city core to be redeveloped as housing. Liberal member of Parliament Andy Fillmore rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, April 21, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

HALIFAX — The Liberal member of Parliament for Halifax is pushing for Canada Post to unload a prime plot of land in the city core to be redeveloped as housing, but the Crown corporation is resisting.

MP and former urban planner Andy Fillmore says Canada Post should consider moving its Almon Street plant out of the city centre so the six hectares of public land it sits on can be part of a project to build up to 5,000 housing units.

"There’s a housing crisis and the federal government owns some really valuable land in key strategic locations around our city, around the riding that I represent, and the Almon Street postal sorting facility is clearly one of those," Fillmore said in an interview Monday.

"Nearby there are schools, a hospital, grocery stores, there's transit, there are professional services. The pipes and the wires and the sidewalks are all there, so it's a beautiful site for redevelopment."

Canada Post said in an emailed statement it has informed Halifax city planners it has no plans to relocate the mail sorting facility.

The land occupied by Canada Post combined with neighbouring lots on the nearly 12-hectare site between Young, Robie, Almon and Windsor streets could house up to 10,000 people, and federal regulations would ensure that 20 per cent of the new units would be “deeply” affordable, Fillmore said.

Canada Post declined an interview, but spokesperson Lisa Liu said in an emailed statement the Halifax plant is central to mail service in Atlantic Canada and the Crown corporation has told city planners it has no plans to move.

However, Liu said, "We have agreed to undertake an assessment of our properties to explore their viability for alternate use, including as residential properties. Those discussions are ongoing."

Fillmore said the postal service could follow the lead of such cities as Vancouver and Toronto and set up a mail sorting facility near the airport and major highways.

"With that larger, industrial function of being the Atlantic Canadian sorting facility, this just isn’t the right place for that," he said. "This should be a neighbourhood of houses and people living and working."

A November 2023 report submitted to Halifax Regional Council says the underutilized 12-hectare plot of land in the city's north end is "strategically located next to planned rapid transit routes and is envisioned to be developed into a comprehensively planned, complete community containing several thousand dwelling units."

However, redeveloping the lot would require agreement from all property owners, including Canada Post, the report said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2024.

Lyndsay Armstrong, The Canadian Press

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