Good News – Bad News, Purcell’s Cove Backlands & Halifax Common

PAC meets Monday for input on Dexel’s proposed 14-storey highrise at Robie, Shirley, Peperell – directly across from the Common Roots Urban Farm and beside Hotel Atlantica. We need Halifax Common’s Master Plan not another high rise.

There’s good news- a few days ago HRM issued an RFP for the Master Plan for the Halifax Common. Next Council agreed to pay $4.1 million to help protect the Purcell’s Cove Backland. Mayor Savage’s statement, “As our city grows, it is more important than ever to preserve natural recreational spaces,” supports what many citizens believe and want. But planning for the preserving natural recreational spaces requires more than words.

Take the example of the Common Roots Urban Farm on the Central Common-it demonstrates the role nature can play in our lives- healing our spirit, minds and bodies and at the same time grow good food! Although the 1994 Halifax Common Plan promised that the Farm’s location on the former Queen Elizabeth High School would revert back to the Halifax Common, HRM did a backroom landswap with Capital Health. HRM made this decision (and many others) without a Master Plan. So for now the Farm is an interim use. Looking back we can regret, but looking forward we need to learn.

So here’s the bad news. HRM continues to make many major development decisions on and around the Halifax Common without a Master Plan. On Monday the 11th (4pm-City Hall) the Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) will consider a 14-storey high rise proposal on Robie, between Pepperell and Shirley Streets directly across from the Common Roots Urban Farm. About the same height as the adjacent Hotel Atlantica this is just one of several proposed highrises next to or on the Halifax Common. These will loom over adjacent properties, create shade, wind, traffic, noise and block the western sky from the Common, all for greed.

The draft Centre Plan has not yet been approved by Council. The effect of multiple high rises on Quinpool Road and the Halifax Common is a big concern. Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by WTG.

Have your say-please attend the PAC meeting to ask that none of these developments be approved before the Halifax Common Master Plan is complete. Our priority must be a genuine public engagement process like there was for the Common Roots Urban Farm so citizens can create a big picture Common Plan. HRM needs to stop wasting everyone’s time with “Me-first! Me-first!” developers who are breaking planning rules to get ahead of all Plans for their own profit. They are taking away options for our Common future.

If you can’t make it please write the PAC asap – clerks@halifax.ns


Photographic Exhibition, Corridor Wasting Disease: Case Study, Robie St.

Corridor Wasting Disease: Robie Street, a Case Study

Sample No. 2636 Robie Street

Canada’s Endangered Places Committee (EPC) has added hundreds of Halifax homes on the brink of extinction to its List of Endangered Places. Corridor Wasting Disease (CWD), an infectious disorder introduced and spread by Halifax Centre Plan, is responsible.

Using abstract frameworks and inflated population projections, Halifax Centre Plan will grow a dozen+ streets into “Corridors” to better accommodate cars and buses. Highly contagious, CWD will spread by increases to height limits from 2-3-storeys to 4-6-storeys along designated streets. Once contaminated, symptoms such as property-owner-neglect gradually lay waste to small-scale affordable housing and commercial properties, trees and habitat. CWD can incubate in parking lots or may erupt as glass and concrete real estate for urban elite. Adjacent streets can suffer side effects including parking lots, dumpsters, wind, shadow or general ugliness. CWD may also be linked to political campaign contributions.

Halifax Centre Plan has failed to adopt preventative therapies such as retaining height limits, creating incentives for building on vacant land and automotive dealerships. Healing remedies such rail, transit, cycling and walkability are under funded.

Corridor Wasting Disease: Robie Street, a Case Study is an exhibition of endangered homes along the western edge of the Halifax Common at risk of extinction (sample population ~100). It is part of the Species Survival Public Education Plan to alert citizens to the dangers of CWD. All of us can help protect these treasured species by becoming better informed, and by taking better care of the city, the Halifax Common, or other habitat where we live. Historic buildings have cultural, social, environmental, and economic value that common citizens share. In cities as in nature everything is connected.

Please write to HRM Councilors to express your concerns;  

9 AM – 5 PM, Oct 4 – 31, 2017  (Wed 9 AM – 8 PM and Mon – Closed)

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
1747 Summer Street,
side entrance, bottom corridor

Opening Reception:
Wed Oct 4th, 5 PM – 7 PM

Enough with the Developer Shock and Awe

Quinpool Road’s proposed future under the Centre Plan (this image does not include rule-breaking developments in process) Click on image to enlarge. Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017) 107; heights added by the Willow Tree Group

In “A nightmare of evocation as Halifax falls to the wrecking ball,” author Larry Haven (The Coast Aug 17) gives a satirical glimpse into why we worry that Halifax is “surely and inexorably being destroyed by rampant developers and an obliging council.

The worst is yet to come. A recent Willow Tree Group essay describes the draft Centre Plan’s proposed future for Quinpool Road, one of several targeted growth areas. Its illustration shown on the right is a mini-look at one of multiple Centre Plan areas where height restrictions will be increased to up to 20 storeys. It doesn’t include the proposed Robie Street Corridor where increased heights of 4-6 storeys all along the western edge of the Halifax Common, slowly killing off 100+ historic buildings so more cars and buses can zoom by. And what’s really missing is the huge number of rule-breaker developments approved in advance of the Centre Plan.

HRM Council recently added ~22 developments to the list. These buildings Continue reading

Opinion: Open Letter to Premier McNeil – Do Better

The following interview with Sheldon MacLeod is based on an open letter sent to Premier Stephen McNeil in August 2017

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil’s government plans to export wind energy, continue burning coal through 2030 and twin the province’s highways. These policies need a climate update, says Peggy Cameron in an open letter to the Premier.

August 2017

Dear Premier McNeil:

Summer tourists traveling around Nova Scotia searching for the quaint or the scenic may be surprised to find a smattering of wind turbines scattered throughout the province. These are just one example of achievements made by previous Nova Scotia governments, over the past decade, to get our province off of fossil fuels.

In 2006, a Conservative government launched Conserve Nova Scotia, an energy efficiency agency. Then in 2007, the province linked the environment and the economy with the Nova Scotia Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. Next, a new NDP government legislated a drastic reduction in coal burning for electricity. And so the people of Nova Scotia Continue reading

News 95.7 Rick Howe; Privatizing the Halifax Common

The 1886 lease for the Wanderer’s Grounds to the amateur, non-profit Wanderer’s Amateur Athletic Club for sports such as baseball, lawn bowling, rugby and snow-shoeing ended in 1959 when the city took over management of the property.

Friday June 23rd is the 254th anniversary of the granting of the 235 acre Halifax Common “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax, as Commons forever”.

No difference to HRM Council which fast-tracked its further privatization by approving a for-profit private stadium at the Wanderers Grounds. Rick Howe interviews FHC on why this privatization is not in the best interests of the Common or the commoners.

Citizens are increasingly upset with HRM’s disregard for both their interests and the common good. About $1 million in citizens’ tax dollars is being spent to improve the Wanderers Grounds but amateur sports players will have at least 20% less field time. The developer has a stated agenda of locating a permanent sports and entertainment venue on the site. FHC is not opposed to the Stadium, just the location and it objects to yet another ad hoc decision being made before there is a Masterplan as committed to by the city of Halifax in 1994. 


Walk the Common Link Pathway – 10 am Friday, June 23rd

The Common Link is a pilot pathway that links the green spaces within the Halifax Common – Victoria Park, Public Gardens, and the Halifax Common North.

Please join us for a walk on the Common Link in the heart of Halifax at 10 am on Friday June 23. The Common Link is a pathway currently being developed to link the green spaces within the Halifax Common – Victoria Park, Public Gardens, and the Halifax Common North. See pathway on the attached map.
Meet at 10 am at the fountain on the South Side of Victoria Park to begin the walk.

This walk commemorates the 254th anniversary of the granting of the Halifax Common to the people of Halifax by King George lll in 1763. Come and meet neighbourhours and enjoy our beautiful inner city green spaces, and get some healthy outdoor exercise in the process.

The walk is about 4 – 5 km long and will take ~ one hour to complete. Join us for a coffee, if you wish, at the completion of the walk at the Just Us Cafe on Spring Garden Road.

Consider joining the Common Link Association to help with this important initiative.

Hope to see you there – weather permitting, (We will only walk if it is not raining – fog, mist and light drizzle would still be OK)

Warm Regards

Ron Scott, Chair
Common Link Association
902 423 5000