April 25th Public Hearing on 20-storeys is About Taking from the Common

Imagine standing on the North or Central Common and looking to the west, to see a 20-storey building, (2 storeys taller than the new convention centre) blocking the sky.

HRM’s Public Hearing for Armoyan’s proposal for the Willow Tree is April 25th, 6 pm at City Hall. But Friends of Halifax Common 10-year effort to have HRM honour its 1994 commitment to develop an integrated master plan for the Halifax Common is ignored.

The 240 acre Halifax Common is a unique parcel granted by King George III in 1763 “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax as Commons forever”. FHC acknowledges the blight of the legacy of colonialism, but uniquely, the Common belongs in equal measure for joint use to the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax, forever.

It is wrong for HRM Council to be taking decisions outside of the context of a master plan, on matters that have a long-term, bad implication for the Halifax Common. Of the 240 acre grant only the remnant of the North Common remains as largely open space. Armoyan’s proposal for 29-storeys to take advantage of luxury views from Quiinpool & Robie is three times what’s permitted. HRM Council’s decision to consider 20-storeys is two times the 10-storey legal zoning.

Common citizens of Halifax have provided lots of evidence as to why this project has no grounds in regulations (at least 9 planning regulations are broken) or merit on a measure of common sense…more shadow, more wind, blocked views, too much height, mass, density, traffic, congestion, reduced diversity and affordability, degradation of character buildings, destabilization of the neighbourhood and Quinpool Road. etc.  All for a private developer and his urban elite.

Despite FHC’s best effort there’s nary a mention of the 1994 Halifax Common Plan in HRM Staff reports and their bias to support the project has only hardened their resolve to wiggle and break rules. It might be HRM Chief Planner Bob Bjerke’s vision to “create an urban form that feels and functions as a cohesive unit (aka a skyscraper zone) at this corner, but is it the right of the HRM Council to aid and abet in stealing from the Common good? Or to ignore the will and interests of the inhabitants who are the rightful shared owners of the space and will be the most affected by fallout from short-sighted decisions?

Its quite a statement on democracy these days when the debate is about having the developer make enough profit without any attention as to what the real cost is and who pays.

So please participate – Write to clerks@halifax.ca & Attend the April 25th public hearing, 6pm at City Hall. Help shed a bit of light on the problems with the process and the proposal so Council will have a better view on why they need to play fair.

There are many good places for good development to take place in Halifax that respect the common good.

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