2010-2106 Total Development Agreements

Letter to Mayor Savage – Stop Development Agreements

Your worship,
I am writing again to request that HRM Council consider a moratorium on development applications and on any individual changes to the MPS, pending completion of the Centre Plan and also of the Bonusing Study. As stated in my letter of July 2015 it is inappropriate to proceed with any more of these individual projects since they cumulatively have the effect of predetermining the outcome of larger planning exercises, thus rendering citizen involvement futile.

In case that you are unaware of how normalized development through the DA process has become, (above) is an inventory of Development Agreements applications recently provided by HRM. For example in 2014 there were 50, all without respecting existing regulations and ignoring citizens’ concerns. All Development Agreements are, by definition, a departure from established rules of the MPS and LUB, which offer a sense of stability to existing residents. In my experience, citizen comments and concerns expressed about the various individual DA applications are ignored.

To this I should add that the changes that Council has requested the Provincial government to make to the HRM Charter (regarding election expenses and for control of differential tax rates for commercial properties) are both inappropriate in themselves and indicative of the wrong set of priorities for alterations to the laws. If the Charter is to be amended, the priority focus should be on tools to control demolitions, on tools to promote affordable housing, and on correcting the deep flaws in the Density Bonusing system.

Regarding the moratorium, projects such as the call for proposals for the St Pat’s High School site, the proposed Development Agreements for the Willow Tree intersection, the Carlton St site at the block of Spring Garden Road immediately to the east of Robie St (Spring Garden West, so-called) and others are all highly problematic. They represent an intensification of use that is neither necessary nor desirable.

In particular, for those proposals that are on Halifax Common lands or adjacent to the Halifax Common, these are contrary to what the Common is meant to be. Furthermore such proposals do not respect the 1994 Halifax Common Plan adopted by Halifax. By considering these projects the Council is failing in its public duty to protect public rights and violating the public trust.
To this, I add that the use of Schedule Q in the north End is illegal. So far this has not gone to court as a litigated issue, but your legal and planning staff have been made aware over the last two years of the legal problem with how Schedule Q is being used. If you and Council have not been briefed on this, may I suggest you inquire about it. Projects that are being approved under Schedule Q are at risk of being stopped by court order if there is litigation.

Regarding the HRM Charter, there are precedents in other provinces for municipalities to be empowered to deal with demolitions, and to promote affordable housing. Of course there would be no necessity for seeking such tools in consideration of specific current cases (however important for the longer run) if the basic zoning were more appropriate, and were adhered to.

As a longtime observer of Council I have to say that I continue to be profoundly disappointed in the extent to which opportunities are missed to improve living conditions in HRM as a whole, and on the Peninsula in particular. In fact by permitting Development Agreements to be widely used to circumvent city planning regulations and by-laws HRM Council is having a long-term negative impact on many of our fellow citizens and the character of our home.

Howard Epstein,
Director, Friends of Halifax Common

June 9, 2016

Don't take the public blue sky for granted. Its time to protect the public's view of the sky and access to light and warmth of the sun. photo by-http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs108/1102470517241

Protect Public Blue Space Too!

Don’t take the view of public blue sky for granted. No, Halifax developers aren’t painting the town red, but they are trying to get rich by occupying public blue space next to green space. Presently there are proposals for 25-, 28-, 18-, 11-, 25-storey buildings around the Halifax Common.  As well, on Halifax Common land, an 18-storey building next to Camphill Cemetery on Carlton St. is already approved; a 30-storey building is proposed for Spring Garden Road at Carlton-Robie; and another in the works on the JustUs/Medical Arts block.

Halifax developers are misusing development agreements to by-pass the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy and build out-of-scale buildings.  When developers build highrises next to public green space, they privatize the public’s blue space/view selling and make higher profits, not just from extra floor space to sell or rent but because these condos, hotel rooms and apartments have a privatize luxury view.

Write the Mayor & Council (clerks@halifax.ca) & ask for regulations to protect the public’s “Blue Network” to ensure access to the view, the light and warmth of the sun and against the wind and shade effects from highrises. Continue reading

The state of demolition of the former St. Pat’s High School as of Dec. 4. (INGRID BULMER / Staff)

Respect Public Values, Stop St Pat’s Process Until After Centre Plan

Fake public process offers towers lost in space with Styrofoam trees.

Fake public process offers 10-18 storey towers lost in space with Styrofoam trees configured as a donut. (Photo: Ted Pritchard, Chronicle Herald, 2016)

FHC’s Peggy Cameron speaks with Rick Howe’s about problems with the St Pat’s process and other development agreements in the city.  The Peninsular Advisory Committee (PAC) will re-convene on June 27th to further discuss St Pat’s fate. There’s still time to tell the Mayor and Council to stop precluding the Centre Plan and take action to protect existing neighbourhoods. Write to them at clerks@halifax.ca


St Pat’s Report – Ignores Public In-put, Favours Big Development.

May 27, 2016
Dear Peninsular Advisory Committee Members:
RE: St Pat’s High School
I am writing to suggest that the process for determining what should be built on the former St Pat’s High School has not been conducted with enough rigor or within a proper framework to ensure its final recommendations are valid and to ask that any decision about this property be deferred until after the Centre Plan is completed.
The public comments from the meeting that Councilor Watts held on May 21, 2014 to initiate discussion about possible outcomes for the St Pat’s High School site as documented here:
http://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/140722ca1118.pdf are completely ignored in the final plan. Because these comments do not seem to be in the final report as presented for review by the PAC please find a brief summary of what the fifty+ people at this meeting emphasized as important:

  • Retaining some public use of the space especially for an auditorium or performance space;
  • Keeping, improving and connecting public open green space;
  • Using the space to support community needs such as seniors housing, francophone community, or non-profits;
  • Redeveloping for commercial, residential and community to complement the existing neighbourhood and Quinpool Road district- no highrises, beauty, green space, public space, pedestrian friendly;
  • Reconfiguring roads and creating better options for pedestrians, cyclists and connectivity and deal with existing traffic problems.

As well “key design principles that include: urban openness that allows visual and physical access to traditionally private space, human scale, public open spaces, a variety of residential and commercial spaces, capturing the spirit of the existing neighbourhood, and creativity in design” as identified by the project consultant in July 2015 are largely ignored in the final outcome. Continue reading


Write now! Help Amend City Charter to Stop Demolition

Write now to the Law Amendments Committee (c/o legc@novascotia.ca) to ask for amendments to Bill 177- An Act to Amend the HRM City Charter and the Municipal Government Act so the city can take control over issuing demolition permits, ensuring affordable housing, and protecting built environment, streetscapes and public space etc.

Bill 177 has been introduced, will pass second reading and then come before Law Amendments Committee. Individual citizens can speak before the Committee or submit a written request to the Committee asking for amendments to the HRM Charter to allow the city to take charge over these priorities. Here’s what FHC submitted on May 5th-feel free to use it as a model.
Law Amendments Submission Bill 177-1
Background Details are here: Continue reading


95.7 Rick Howe – Do Mayor & Council Enable Demolitions?

There are approximately 45-50 buildings under threat of demolition or already under the wrecking ball.  What is the role of the Mayor and Council? What can they do?  Why haven’t they done it?  And why are demolition permits being handed out “left, right and centre”?

Danny Chedrawe has demolished 7 character buildings-his new 7-storey construct will block the view of Citadel Hill from the 5-storey "Halifax Livingroom" of the new Central Library. https://www.halifaxexaminer.ca/province-house/drinking-with-a-dead-man-morning-file-wednesday-may-4-2016/

Danny Chedrawe’s Westwood Ltd. has demolished 7 character buildings-his new 7-storey construct will block the view of Citadel Hill from the 5-storey “Halifax Living-room” of the new Central Library. photo-Halifax Examiner –see more here.