Developer Delays May 23rd Public Hearing – FHC Requests New HRM Staff Report

For the public record, FHC is calling for a new HRM report before a public hearing to consider APL’s 20 or 29 storey skyscraper is held. Inaccuracies, biases, omissions and false statements need to be corrected and the significant input by citizens be respected, otherwise the process is meaningless.

For a second time developer APL has asked to delay the HRM Public Hearing for its 20 or 29-storey highrise at Robie and Quinpool. FHC has written City Hall to request a new HRM staff report  before HRM Council holds a Public Hearing. FHC’s concerns about accuracy, bias and comprehensiveness of analyses and statements by staff and councilors are included in an executive summary to Mayor Savage, Councillors, and Chief of Planning Bob Bjerke. See PDF:
2017, May FHC Mayor & Council, new APL staff report
A second document details all 16 items of concern. See PDF:
Attachment, new APL staff report required

Citizens have been almost unanimous in their opposition to both 20 and 29-storeys but their knowledge and input are being ignored. There is no justification for the project which cannot be built under existing regulations or under the draft Centre Plan. If the HRM Staff Report is not corrected, the process is meaningless. Both the April 25th and now May 23rd dates have been cancelled at the request of the developer.

Speak or Write for the Common Good – 6pm Tues. May 23

Urgent – Tell the Mayor & Council to say “No!” to APL’s proposed 20 or 29-storey highrise at Robie & Quinpool

A Public Hearing at City Hall on Tuesday May 23rd at 6pm is your last chance to voice your concern.  APL’s proposal will be a permanent looming intrusion on the Halifax Common and neighbourhood with shadow, wind and blocked view of the sky.

This highrise cannot be legally built under the present rules nor under new draft Centre Plan rules. Do not let HRM ignore the rules and the input of hundreds of common citizens who have told them 20-storeys is not a compromise.

Please plan to attend and to tell City Hall to make a decision for benefit the Common not a private developer. If you can’t attend the public hearing please write clerks@halifax.ca

Help spread the word with social media or by printing this poster .

News 95.7, Rick Howe – “Pop-up” “Temporary” Stadium is Private & for Profit

Rick Howe talks with Peggy Cameron about why the best use of the Wanderer’s Grounds isn’t a private business person’s permanent

Halifax Common’s Wanderer’s Grounds (photo credit – Alvin Comitor)

3,000- 6000 seat stadium with 60 port-a-potties. In fact it isn’t even legal. Instead HRM needs to stay focused on the big picture – a master plan for the Halifax Common – committed to since 1994.

Wanderer’s Grounds’ private “pop-up” “temporary” Stadium Illegal

‘Pop-Up’ ‘Temporary’ Stadium on the Wanderer’s Grounds is doublespeak for ‘Pre-fab’ ‘Permanent’. Sixty port-a-potties and professional soccer league team aren’t the right fit for the Common good.

A proposed private, long-term use of Halifax Common lands is not permitted under legislation governing the Halifax Common. Nor is it considered in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan documents which emphasize that temporary events are for a “limited amount of time” or a “short period of time” and understood to not restrict “general public use and access”.

Friends of Halifax Common asks HRM Mayor and Council to do its homework before it pursues a private partnership to put a 3,000 – 6,000 person stadium on the Halifax Commons’ Wanderer’s Grounds.

They have not yet received response to either January or April 2017 letters

2017 FHC letter, Mayor & Council, CAO stadium

2017 FHC Mayor and Council, stadium

The proposal involves many questions but the larger issue is the private use of the public’s space for private profit of a private businessman. The developer’s promotional language readily adopted by HRM staff or Council such as “pop-up” and “temporary” and “small” does not apply to the project as the private business seeks a substantive long-term commitment of three years and extension to six years or more.

The proposed project also involves considerable permanent and semi-permanent infrastructure including 3,000 – 6,000 seats and sixty port-a-potties. And it wants to attract a Halifax-based professional soccer team. The sports presenter business also hopes to host other outdoor sports and entertainment uses including rugby, lacrosse, volleyball, music concerts etc.

“Its disappointing that HRM is more motivated to set up a private business on the Halifax Common than to work on its basic commitment of managing the lands for public benefit,” said Peggy Cameron, co-chair of Friends of Halifax Common. “If the Wanderer’s Grounds was in such bad shape it couldn’t be used for last year’s Rugby Tournament that’s the reason to fix it this year, its not the reason to do a side-deal with a private business,” said Cameron.

FHC has written to Councillor Waye Mason to caution him against his selective use of the 1994 Halifax Common Plan to find statements that seem supportive of such a venture but that are taken out of context. The over arching theme of the documents is that “privately sponsored events with paid admission on the Common are acceptable provided they are open to all with paid admission and the public is denied general use for only a short period of time.”

Rather than just agreeing to the first unsolicited project idea for a stadium, FHC suggests that a better process would be for the Mayor and Council to issue an RFP. That process should have criteria for a site near where the bulk of HRM’s population lives, that is better served by public transit, parking and road access, and that if successful should be able to be made permanent or expand. Some possibilities might include Exhibition Park, Burnside, Bayer’s Lake, Dartmouth Crossing.

FHC was founded in 2007 and works to ensure that space on the Halifax Common is protected as per the public’s wishes and as recorded in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

Rick Howe 95.7 – Is Densification Promoting Demolition?

Hundreds of classic Halifax houses and streetscapes are under threat of demolition. (photo: Alvin Comiter)

April 4, 2017 –  Listen as Rick Howe interviews Peggy Cameron on why the Centre Plan will lead to demolition of hundreds of 2 & 3-storey Halifax & Dartmouth homes in growth centres and corridors areas such as Robie St, Spring Garden Rd, College St, Parker St, Chebucto Rd., etc.

See also
Critics fear Centre Plan lacks protection for heritage sites
Plan could be a ‘death sentence’ for hundreds of homes
April 02 story by CBC’s Pam Berman
Heritage advocates in Halifax are dismayed by what they say is a lack of protection for historic buildings and don’t believe new policies in the Centre Plan will improve the situation.
Three of the past four meetings of the city’s heritage advisory committee have been cancelled. City officials said there were no issues to discuss for two of those meetings.
“I find that unbelievable, given the amount that heritage is under threat,” Continue reading

Does Halifax need Missing “Gentle Density” or Armoyan’s 20-storeys?

FHC’s latest letter to City Council asking them to not approve a 20- or 29-storey highrise at Robie & Quinpool, at City Hall’s April 25th public hearing included Brent Toderian’s

Brent Toderian, former Vancouver city planner now advocates for what his photo shows Halifax already has, “gentle density”.

“Canadian Cities need more gentle density to address housing crunch. The former Vancouver city planner writes that ground-oriented housing that’s denser than a detached house is the “missing middle” in housing needs.
Something’s changed since Mr. Toderian’s keynote speach for the Dexel Group’s 2016 PR campaign promoting towers on the single block of the Halifax Common at Robie, College, Spring Garden and Carlton. Now it seems he would agree that 16-, 23-, 26- and 30-storey highrises are the wrong kind of game changer as they are not conducive to “preserving community building blocks” as part of planning for resilient, diverse, complete and affordable neighbourhoods. But as he describes, this same block is an ideal candidate for in-fill within the middle of the block that would respectfully compliment the existing mixed-use, small-scale historic neighbourhood.

Specific height restrictions by Carlton Street (35’, 45’ and 50’) protect the neighbourhood, as they do at Robie, Quinpool, Parker and Welsford where the present APL tower is located. Highrises built at this location in the 60s & 70s were recognized as incongruous mistakes. Height restrictions were put in place to protect the small scale, densely packed and stable neighbourhoods. And to protect the last 20-acres of open space on the Halifax Common, all that remains out of the 240-acre grant.

Citizens have been waiting since 1994 for a promised master plan for the Halifax Common. In the interim many acres of the Halifax Common have been built on or given over to parking lots to the extent that at present less than 20 acres remains as public open space. This is hard evidence and a relevant testament to how really bad planning results become when there is no over-arching vision for the long term. And unfortunately bad planning or no planning endure; what is damaged remains so.

Citizens have also been waiting years for the completion of the Centre Plan. Since that 2010 at least 179 development agreements applications been processed. Too many HRM planning staff (~18) are absorbed in working on Development Agreements when compared to the number working on the Centre Plan (~3). Should that be how HRM staff time is prioritized and allocated? Does your government not believe in the importance of the Centre Plan?

To plan for a city we need to ensure that development is within a context of city-building, not just developer buildings. Citizens are asking for precisely what Mr. Toderian suggests is the missing solution -gentle density respectful of neighbourhoods and of green space such as the Halifax Common.

Canadian cities need more ‘gentle density’ to address housing crunch

Ground-oriented housing that’s more dense than a detached house is the “missing middle” in the housing conversation.

By: Brent Toderian For Metro Published on Tue Mar 07 2017
If you could be a fly on the wall in city planning departments lately, chances are you’d overhear a conversation about “gentle density.” And the planners would look pretty stressed. Continue reading