FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 1, 2016
(Halifax) Between 45 & 50 buildings on the Halifax Peninsula are about to be demolished or are under threat. When you add it up, Halifax is under siege by some developers that want to build outside existing planning rules and get ahead of the Centre Plan. Recent news revealed Steele Auto’s plans to raze 17 properties NE of Robie and North Streets but there are many other neighbourhoods threatened by private developers. Good city development and planning is guided by more than developers’ and car dealers’ needs. The Mayor and Council need to take control by enforcing exiting planning rules and taking control of demolition permitting.
Present plans and regulations already allow for the construction of an additional 34,965 dwelling units in the Regional Centre without any changes. There is no need to break rules or destroy the historic character and urban fabric of Halifax.
But plans are in the works for 3 high-rises between 18-30 storeys in the Spring Garden Road area between Robie and Carlton Streets by Dexel Construction and Killam Properties. These proposals are all located on Halifax Common Land where the historic streetscape has a 2.5 storey height limit. Under the 1994 Halifax Common Plan the City of Halifax committed to protect the integrity of the Halifax Common and to maintain and enhance the special character and beauty of the area, its open space, trees, views and landmarks, historic significance etc. If approved the towers will result in 8 -10 mixed-use, small-scale commercial and residential buildings on Spring Garden Road being demolished.
Similarly at Robie and Quinpool developers want to break regulations and dominate the western edge of the Halifax Common with out of scale high-rises – Armco (29-storeys), Westwood (24-storeys) and Dexel (12-storeys). If approved, these high-rises, like those already approved on South Park Street, will demolish historic buildings and negatively affect residential and rental units. The high-rises will destroy the charm, character, enjoyment and walkability of existing neighbourhoods and the Halifax Common by creating shadow and wind and by blocking public views. By breaking rules to locate high-rises next to public open space, developers will make huge profits from renting or selling luxurious views of the public’s green space.
Dartmouth and Halifax, over 260 years, have developed many distinctive and inviting neighbourhoods. After detailed public participation at dozens of meetings, the former Cities of Dartmouth and Halifax prepared overall municipal planning strategies and detailed area plans to protect these neighbourhood characteristics. So, too, with the long-ignored 1994 Halifax Common Plan.
These strategies have been successful. Many of the policies are state of the art. Residents are proud of their neighbourhoods. The population of the “Regional Centre” (Halifax peninsula and Dartmouth inside the circumferential highway) is growing.
HRM staff describe our municipal planning strategies as “out-of-date”. They’re working on a new Regional Centre Plan to “replace” the current strategies that deal with individual neighbourhoods. It’s happening with little citizen engagement- a quick and dirty public consultation-only four meetings over two weeks – (see details below). Staff says the proposed plan will “protect the scale and character of existing neighbourhoods”, but it’s difficult to believe that all the necessary detail and good principles will be incorporated by this fall.
Send comments to ask for protection of Halifax neighbourhoods to the Mayor and Council and the Chair and Members of the Community Design Advisory Committee, c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
media contact: Peggy Cameron 902.492.4372 www.halifaxcommon.ca
I. letter to the Mayor and Council asking them to take charge of demolition permits.
II. Partial list of houses/commercial properties or locations where demolition has or may threaten neighbourhoods on the Halifax Peninsula:
a. 1 Cleveland House on Young Avenue;
b. 2-3 buildings on Robie and Parker just north of Quinpool;
c. 7-10 houses on Brenton Street, Clyde Street, South Park Street (The Trillium project removed ~5 houses);
d. 2-3 buildings on Seymour at Coburg Road;
e. 7 buildings on Doyle Street, Queen Street and Spring Garden Road-already demolished;
f. 17 properties on North Street, Robie Street, McCully Street, May Street and Fern Lane;
g. 4 residential homes on Wellington Street;
Up-coming projects that may require demolition applications if approved are:
g. Dexel Construction – 6-8 properties on the south side of Spring Garden Road between Carleton Street and Robie Street;
h. Killam Properties – 1 or more properties on the SE corner of Spring Garden Road and Carleton St;
i. Ghosn has just purchased the 1 Commissionaire’s building on Hollis and wants to incorporate the facade into a 7-storey multi-residential.
Also larger buildings such as Piercy’s, Ben’s Bakery & St Pat’s are places where businesses could have been locating.
III. Additional Details on Centre Plan consultation
The current plans are here:
The HRM web site has information about the staff proposal at: http://shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/centre-plan-intro.
IV. Centre Plan meetings locations:
Dartmouth North Community Centre, 105 Highfield Park Drive, Monday, May 2
Mic Mac Rowing Club, 192 Prince Albert Road, Dartmouth, Tuesday, May 3
St. Mary’s Boat Club, 1641 Fairfield Road, Halifax, Thursday, May 5
Halifax Forum, Windsor Street, Halifax, Wednesday, May 11
The workshops will run twice at each location: 1-3 p.m. and from 6-8 p.m.