Category Archives: ACTION

An initiative that takes the form of an action. Could be an action by an affiliate.

Good News – Bad News, Purcell’s Cove Backlands & Halifax Common

PAC meets Monday for input on Dexel’s proposed 14-storey highrise at Robie, Shirley, Peperell – directly across from the Common Roots Urban Farm and beside Hotel Atlantica. We need Halifax Common’s Master Plan not another high rise.

There’s good news- a few days ago HRM issued an RFP for the Master Plan for the Halifax Common. Next Council agreed to pay $4.1 million to help protect the Purcell’s Cove Backland. Mayor Savage’s statement, “As our city grows, it is more important than ever to preserve natural recreational spaces,” supports what many citizens believe and want. But planning for the preserving natural recreational spaces requires more than words.

Take the example of the Common Roots Urban Farm on the Central Common-it demonstrates the role nature can play in our lives- healing our spirit, minds and bodies and at the same time grow good food! Although the 1994 Halifax Common Plan promised that the Farm’s location on the former Queen Elizabeth High School would revert back to the Halifax Common, HRM did a backroom landswap with Capital Health. HRM made this decision (and many others) without a Master Plan. So for now the Farm is an interim use. Looking back we can regret, but looking forward we need to learn.

So here’s the bad news. HRM continues to make many major development decisions on and around the Halifax Common without a Master Plan. On Monday the 11th (4pm-City Hall) the Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) will consider a 14-storey high rise proposal on Robie, between Pepperell and Shirley Streets directly across from the Common Roots Urban Farm. About the same height as the adjacent Hotel Atlantica this is just one of several proposed highrises next to or on the Halifax Common. These will loom over adjacent properties, create shade, wind, traffic, noise and block the western sky from the Common, all for greed.

The draft Centre Plan has not yet been approved by Council. The effect of multiple high rises on Quinpool Road and the Halifax Common is a big concern. Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by WTG.

Have your say-please attend the PAC meeting to ask that none of these developments be approved before the Halifax Common Master Plan is complete. Our priority must be a genuine public engagement process like there was for the Common Roots Urban Farm so citizens can create a big picture Common Plan. HRM needs to stop wasting everyone’s time with “Me-first! Me-first!” developers who are breaking planning rules to get ahead of all Plans for their own profit. They are taking away options for our Common future.

If you can’t make it please write the PAC asap – clerks@halifax.ns


Photographic Exhibition, Corridor Wasting Disease: Case Study, Robie St.

Corridor Wasting Disease: Robie Street, a Case Study

Sample No. 2636 Robie Street

Canada’s Endangered Places Committee (EPC) has added hundreds of Halifax homes on the brink of extinction to its List of Endangered Places. Corridor Wasting Disease (CWD), an infectious disorder introduced and spread by Halifax Centre Plan, is responsible.

Using abstract frameworks and inflated population projections, Halifax Centre Plan will grow a dozen+ streets into “Corridors” to better accommodate cars and buses. Highly contagious, CWD will spread by increases to height limits from 2-3-storeys to 4-6-storeys along designated streets. Once contaminated, symptoms such as property-owner-neglect gradually lay waste to small-scale affordable housing and commercial properties, trees and habitat. CWD can incubate in parking lots or may erupt as glass and concrete real estate for urban elite. Adjacent streets can suffer side effects including parking lots, dumpsters, wind, shadow or general ugliness. CWD may also be linked to political campaign contributions.

Halifax Centre Plan has failed to adopt preventative therapies such as retaining height limits, creating incentives for building on vacant land and automotive dealerships. Healing remedies such rail, transit, cycling and walkability are under funded.

Corridor Wasting Disease: Robie Street, a Case Study is an exhibition of endangered homes along the western edge of the Halifax Common at risk of extinction (sample population ~100). It is part of the Species Survival Public Education Plan to alert citizens to the dangers of CWD. All of us can help protect these treasured species by becoming better informed, and by taking better care of the city, the Halifax Common, or other habitat where we live. Historic buildings have cultural, social, environmental, and economic value that common citizens share. In cities as in nature everything is connected.

Please write to HRM Councilors to express your concerns;  

9 AM – 5 PM, Oct 4 – 31, 2017  (Wed 9 AM – 8 PM and Mon – Closed)

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
1747 Summer Street,
side entrance, bottom corridor

Opening Reception:
Wed Oct 4th, 5 PM – 7 PM

Enough with the Developer Shock and Awe

Quinpool Road’s proposed future under the Centre Plan (this image does not include rule-breaking developments in process) Click on image to enlarge. Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017) 107; heights added by the Willow Tree Group

In “A nightmare of evocation as Halifax falls to the wrecking ball,” author Larry Haven (The Coast Aug 17) gives a satirical glimpse into why we worry that Halifax is “surely and inexorably being destroyed by rampant developers and an obliging council.

The worst is yet to come. A recent Willow Tree Group essay describes the draft Centre Plan’s proposed future for Quinpool Road, one of several targeted growth areas. Its illustration shown on the right is a mini-look at one of multiple Centre Plan areas where height restrictions will be increased to up to 20 storeys. It doesn’t include the proposed Robie Street Corridor where increased heights of 4-6 storeys all along the western edge of the Halifax Common, slowly killing off 100+ historic buildings so more cars and buses can zoom by. And what’s really missing is the huge number of rule-breaker developments approved in advance of the Centre Plan.

HRM Council recently added ~22 developments to the list. These buildings all break planning regulations for height, mass, density, public open space requirements etc. These democratically agreed upon regulations haven’t slowed or stopped development as decried by certain developers, they’ve kept it predictable and balanced it with the best interests of citizens. But now instead of respecting a Plan the city is being consumed by a rash of glass and cement cubes and towers; building designs that are not sustainable, that add to climate change and take away from the economic viability of our city, reduce the livability, walkability and charm of neighbourhoods and attack affordable housing and commercial space.

For example, two developments marching forward on the Halifax Common propose four towers, 16, 30, 20 & 26-storeys on a single block next to the registered Carlton Street Heritage Streetscape. If approved, these will cause the demolition of dozens of affordable commercial and residential units, create shadow and wind, to add luxury units to an area with limited water and sewage and where there is not even a grocery store.

HRM staff reports on such development applications neutralize valid public concerns into meaningless “PLANspeak” commentary. Rarely does citizen engagement influence decisions. And developers as pirates make millions in extra profit by getting extra floor space to rent or sell while they destroy and gentrify neighbourhoods and wreck the experience on public open space.

No one is providing models or images to show the cumulative impact of the proposed Centre Plan changes plus the multiple development agreement projects.

Why aren’t HRM staff providing citizens with visual models/images for the entire Centre Plan area with its growth centre, corridors, and high density growth areas? Where are the models/images that includes the many proposed development agreement applications? Why haven’t HRM staff developed models/images of growth scenarios that would sensibly use in-fill or under utilized land such as empty lots and automotive dealerships? Or of growth scenarios around a commuter rail corridor? Why is developing these models/images left to the un-paid volunteer work of individuals or community groups such as the Willow Tree Group?

I’m not a a NIMBY nor are my fellow citizens. Nor are we anti-development. We care about Halifax. All citizens have the right to insist that the long-term vision for a sustainable Halifax be the focus of HRM planners and the Mayor and Council, not just the greed of private profiteers masked under the mantra of densification, exaggerated population projects and planning as farce.

Dear Mayor and Council- enough with the developer shock and awe. Now is the time to plan our city not demolish it.

News 95.7 Rick Howe; Privatizing the Halifax Common

The 1886 lease for the Wanderer’s Grounds to the amateur, non-profit Wanderer’s Amateur Athletic Club for sports such as baseball, lawn bowling, rugby and snow-shoeing ended in 1959 when the city took over management of the property.

Friday June 23rd is the 254th anniversary of the granting of the 235 acre Halifax Common “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax, as Commons forever”.

No difference to HRM Council which fast-tracked its further privatization by approving a for-profit private stadium at the Wanderers Grounds. Rick Howe interviews FHC on why this privatization is not in the best interests of the Common or the commoners.

Citizens are increasingly upset with HRM’s disregard for both their interests and the common good. About $1 million in citizens’ tax dollars is being spent to improve the Wanderers Grounds but amateur sports players will have at least 20% less field time. The developer has a stated agenda of locating a permanent sports and entertainment venue on the site. FHC is not opposed to the Stadium, just the location and it objects to yet another ad hoc decision being made before there is a Masterplan as committed to by the city of Halifax in 1994. 


Wanderer’s Grounds Facing Privatization

On Tuesday, June 20th Mayor Savage and Council approved the proposal for a private stadium on the public Wanderers’ Grounds. Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) have outlined our serious concerns about the bias of the City’s Staff Report and the staff’s recommendation to fast-track the approval for the pop-up stadium in a letter we delivered to City Council. In the letter, we do not object to the private-for-profit “pop-up” stadium proposal, but we do oppose the Wanderers’ Grounds as the location. See letter: 2017 FHC Mayor & Council, June stadium, staff report

Illustration of Proposed Pop-up Stadium on the Halifax Wanderers’ Grounds (a section of the publicly-owned Halifax Common)

The private stadium developer has stated that, “By two years of that three-year cycle, I think we’ll have a great idea on whether or not that site works and is there a desire for something more permanent on that site.” read more…

This important public civic space is already used to near-capacity by amateur sports players of all ages. The Stadium proposal favouring a professional team would take away at least 20% of present public use and entertain passive spectators to make a profit.

HRM Staff do not address the pro-ponent’s stated goal of having a long-term permanent stadium. Nor do they mention public tax payers have recently spent ~$ 1 million in fixing up the Grounds. Concerns about noise, parking, the effect on the area (Public Gardens, hospitals, Bengal Lancers, the Citadel, Camphill Cemetery) or the loss of citizens’ recreational space are being brushed aside.

Stadium seating for 6,000 including sixty port-a-potties, as well as shipping containers for food and alcohol are about to be approved without a Masterplan for the Halifax Common or any public consultation.

The 1994 Halifax Common Plan was a positive outcome of the collision between the for-profit, private use of the Halifax Common for the Moosehead Grand Prix and a groundswell of steadfast public unwillingness to endure that private use and its inconveniences. Comments from these documents mention that the public was fed up with how ad hoc the city was in its decisions about the common and a lack of process.

Its 2017. This makes twenty-three years of waiting for a Halifax Common Masterplan.

Contact City Hall with your opinions regarding privatization of the use of the Halifax Wanderers’ Grounds.


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

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