Herald Opinion – Halifax Common Takes Another Hit

Published June 22, 2015 –
On June 23, 1763, King George III granted 240 acres of common land “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common forever.” Unwittingly, this year the city will commemorate the anniversary by cutting several mature trees to make way for a roundabout at the Cogswell/North Park/Ahern/Trollope intersection.This is a fitting tribute to the ongoing

The proposed developments will block  the common view of the western sky and will increase wind, shadow and traffic.

The proposed developments will block the common view of the western sky and will increase wind, shadow and traffic.

onslaught of the Common, whereby less than 30 acres remain as public open space. And it suits the city’s habit of ignoring the 1994 Halifax Common Plan to protect it by not decreasing the amount of public open space or the amount of city-owned land, and to increase the amount of land under city ownership through recapture of lands.

Examples of giveaways include the lands of the former Queen Elizabeth High School, Grace Maternity Hospital and Civic Hospital, School for the Blind and its adjacent block of Tower Road as well as the side-yards of All Saints Cathedral. Next will be the CBC-TV and the Victoria General Hospital lands. And decisions for the permanent Oval, the Oval building, the roundabouts and several public art projects were all outside of an integrated Halifax Common Master Plan.

Now, after a 21-year wait, this year’s municipal budget included money to begin the planning process. Time is not on the Common’s side. Developers are unjustifiably making extensive use Continue reading

CBC Radio Interview- Common’s Death by a Thousand Cuts

People walk up Citadel Hill through some thick fog on Thursday in Halifax-photo by Jeff Harper, Metro News

People walk up Citadel Hill through some thick fog on Thursday in Halifax-photo by Jeff Harper, Metro News

On the eve of the Halifax Common’s 252 anniversary CBC Mainstreet’s Stephanie Domet interviews Peggy Cameron.  The conversation outlines the many decisions that the city is making in advance of an integrated master plan for the Halifax Common.

There are no rules. Individual decisions outside of a plan are having a cumulative impact and are diminishing the Common.  These also preclude the outcome of any planning process related to the now promised Halifax Common Master Plan.

Concerned about what Common will be left for posterity?  Or that the Mayor and Council have no vision for the Common?
Email the Mayor and Council at:  clerks@halifax.ca.

(begins at 4:10)

Write to Protect the Halifax Common

This year Halifax will commemorate the June 23rd anniversary of the 240 acre Halifax Common grant from King George III by cutting several mature trees to make way for a roundabout at the Cogswell/NorthPark/Ahern/Trollope intersection.  Its a fitting tribute

View towards Cunard & North Park

View towards Cunard & North Park

to the on-going onslaught of the Common whereby less than 30 acres remain as public open space. And it suits the City’s habit of ignoring the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

Now after a 21-year wait this year’s municipal budget includes money to begin the planning process. Time is not on the side of the Common.

Developers are unjustifiably making extensive use of the Development Agreement (DA) application process to ignore the Regional Plan’s existing controls that regulate size, mass, height and set back of buildings  for spot-rezoning. Right now there are DA applications for 25-, 28-, 18-, 11-, 24-storey buildings adjacent to the Halifax Common. And an 18-storey building approved next to Camphill Cemetery on Carleton St. and a 30-storey building proposed for Spring Garden Road at Carleton are on Halifax Common land.

By approving DAs for out-of-scale buildings, the Mayor and Council are allowing developers to preclude not just the Halifax Common Master Plan process, but also the Centre Plan and the Halifax Green Network processes. We have yet to ever hear about an Integrated Transportation Strategy and where roundabouts would rank against other priorities such as commuter rail.

Please write the Mayor and Council at clerks@halifax.ca to ask that they stick to the existing rules until new plans are complete. And send comments to the Halifax Green Network http://engage.o2design.com/halifax/engage_map/ asking for regulations to protect the Halifax Common and all public open BLUE space. Continue reading

100 in 1 Day Halifax – June 6/7, 2015

50 perimeter flags and 4 corner gardens where to mark when we enter or leave the Halifax Common. This SW corner is at Robie & South Streets.

The SW corner of South & Robie has 1 of 50 perimeter flags & 4 corner gardens to mark when we enter or leave the Halifax Common.

For FHC 100 in 1 Day  is the perfect way to Celebrate the Common. To remind Haligonians of the Halifax Common’s real size the Friends have marked the perimeter by hanging approximately fifty small flags silk-screened with “Halifax Common” and an outline of its shape.  And as well the group has marked the four corners of the Halifax Common by planting small garden boxes and installing painted signs.

“The flags around the perimeter and four common corner gardens at South/Robie, South/South Park, Cunard/Robie, and Cunard/North Park are to help remind us when we are entering or leaving the 240 acre Halifax Common,” said participant Jyelle Vogel. “Everyone will be surprized at how large our Halifax Common is,” said Vogel.

“Halifax isn’t just giving away the common green space, its now privatizing the blue space on and around the perimeter by permitting developers to build out of scale high-rises so they can sell the luxury view to their paying clients,”  says Peggy Cameron, Friends of Halifax Common, Co-chair. “This changes the experience of being on the Halifax Common by blocking the view, the access to light and Continue reading

Urban Halifax stream dormant but not gone

Op Ed for the Chronicle Herald by John DeMont.

Ben Wedge, pictured in Victoria Park, has found a correlation between the presence of flourishing trees and the locations of underground water systems in Halifax. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

Ben Wedge, pictured in Victoria Park, has found a correlation between the presence of flourishing trees and the locations of underground water systems in Halifax. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

It occurred like so many great insights have at Charlie’s Club on a Wednesday night, with the smell of hops and the click-click-click of pool balls in the north-end Halifax air.

Ben Wedge, born in Summerside, P.E.I., with a mind that is interested in many things, was nursing a Garrison beer and Googling a map of Halifax on his iPad Continue reading

Jane’s Walk – Freshwater Brook, Halifax Common – Sunday May 3, 11am

Freshwater Brook as commemorated by Friends of Halifax Common for Earth Day 2011

The path of Freshwater Brook as commemorated by Friends of Halifax Common for Earth Day 2011

Did you know that Halifax has its own lost river system? Join Jane’s Walk guide, Ben Wedge on the North Common to explore Halifax’s river system and its influence on development patterns in a growing garrison town. After centuries of development burying our beautiful urban streams, cities are rediscovering them and starting to bring them back.  Inspired in part by the documentary “Lost Rivers” Halifax Council is debating daylighting Dartmouth’s Sawmill River.  
Here is a nice facebook page and previous posts on Freshwater Brook can be found here…This post about HRM’s 2006 daylighting policy for both Sawmill River and Freshwater Brook.  This post includes links to excellent essays by Matt Neviille and Sam Austin. Continue reading