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