Sheldon MacLeod Interview – Did HRM’s Invalid Survey Fool the Quinpool Biz Assn.?

Listen to Sheldon’s MacLeod’s interview with FHC about misuse of HRM’s invalid survey to push for 25-storeys.

On a matter of conduct FHC calls for a new HRM report on the APL proposal before another public hearing to correct inaccuracies, biases, omissions & false statements – For now the process is meaningless.

At January 16th’s public hearing on APL’s proposed 20-storey highrise, Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Assn. used HRM’s invalid on-line survey to claim that the public support 25 storeys and decided to push for 5 more storeys.  That same invalid survey was used in HRM’s staff 2017 report report to council about proposed Willow Tree highrises as the top reason to recommend Armoyen’s proposed Willow Tree project even though HRM withdrew the 2014 survey because of acknowledged biases and misinformation.
“The online survey generally indicated support for increased heights for both properties.”  Who can you trust?

For more details see FHC’s March 4th Media Release: FOIPOP Recipient Uses Invalid HRM On-line Survey to Promote Height at Willow Tree Site Continue reading

Sheldon MacLeod Interview -Why is Quinpool Business Association Boycotting Neighbourhood?

FHC wonders why Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association enthusiastically endorsed APL’s proposed 25-storey building at Robie & Quinpool at the public hearing meant to consider 20-storeys.

January 16’s public hearing for a 20-storey proposal became one on 25-storeys after a few affordable housing units were promised. HRM has no authority under its Charter to enforce affordable housing requirements and has no definition of affordability.

Residents oppose this block-buster project and have engaged with the Centre Plan and Halifax Common Master Plan processes in hopes of developing a vision for the district that respects existing neighbourhoods & the Halifax Common. The Business Association has sent a strong message that working with the city planners and residents is not their priority. Listen to this Sheldon MacLeod interview to learn more.

Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association Boycotts Residents

FHC’s executive has written to the Quinpool Rd. Mainstreet District Association to express dismay at their enthusiastic endorsement of APL’s proposed 25-storey project at Robie and Quinpool at the January 16th public hearing.  The Association is aware since the first public meeting that members of the public, largely residents of the neighbourhoods, were unanimously opposed to the project. At that time, the Association’s letter of support was the only one. The public’s opposition has only grown.

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by the Willow Tree Group. APL’s project could not be built under the draft Centre Plan.

Demolition/construction at the new convention centre didn’t work out that well for local downtown businesses. FHC wonders if the Association is really representing their membership; why it supports a density dump of high-rises instead of in-fill or mid-rise developments that could add ~ 3,000 residents  and support more pedestrian activity; and, why it doesn’t respect the existing neighbourhoods and Halifax Common?

Please let any of your favourite Quinpool business owners know that you are concerned if they aren’t respecting their neighbourhoods and recognizing the Halifax Common as an asset that should be protected. Loyalty to businesses on Quinpool Road is a two-way street – many residents will note the Association’s support of APL as a betrayal. Why isn’t the Association working with residents to make a better plan for Quinpool?

Please read FHC’s letter here:2018 FHC Quinpool Road Business Commission 

 

 

Epstein-HRM council should respect the Common, as it has Lake Banook

A man bikes in the rain on the Halifax Common. The Armoury which will begin a restoration valued at $17 million is in the background. (Chronicle Herald photo)

Chronicle Herald

by Howard Epstein
Jan 15, 2018

Harbour East Council (Councillors Streatch, Hendsbee, Karsten, Nicoll and Austin) recently rejected a 15-storey proposal for Graham’s Corner beside Lake Banook, and has put off a follow-up proposal at nine storeys.

All of the reasons offered apply to the full HRM council’s consideration this week of the APL proposal for the Willow Tree intersection beside the Halifax Common. And then some.

In the Banook case, neighbourhood incompatibility played a large role. So, too, for the Willow Tree neighbourhood. Parker, Welsford, Williams, and Compton streets, as well as Robie Street itself, constitute a vibrant residential nook, full of family homes that will be seriously negatively affected if rules are changed to allow a 20-storey building.

The Banook case illustrated exactly why the existing zoning restrictions were put in place. So, too, for the Willow Tree neighbourhood.

At the time, Alderman Nick Meagher, who served on council for 33 years until his retirement in 1995, had the foresight to have height, mass, and density regulations adopted that allow for some intensification of use, but cap it at 10 storeys.

This allowed for protection of the small-scale, densely packed, and stable neighbourhoods and local businesses that have traditionally characterized the overall area.

The Banook case took into account negative impacts on the lake itself as a public amenity. So, too, for the Common and the Willow Tree proposal. They are both important destinations that provide a pleasant visual experience because of the sense of open space and sky.

The Common has a greater diversity of passive and active recreational users and pedestrians. It is used year-round.

The area of The Common that remains as public open space is significantly smaller than Lake Banook and so negative impacts are greater.

The Banook nine-storey proposal would cast shadow in the morning but not in summer when the sun is high. The APL 20-storey proposal is on the western edge of the Common and at least twice the height – it will cast a significant shadow. It will especially shadow the Oval, during afternoon winter skating.

The Banook proposal is for less mass and density than the APL proposal. The Willow Tree proposal would violate at least seven bylaws that are designed to protect public open space and neighbourhoods. Overall, it is too much of an impact.

There are many reasons not to change the planning rules to allow the APL proposal to go forward.

It is not only a question of consistency with the Lake Banook case approach. The draft Centre Plan would not allow the project. It is not a sensible environmental basis for development to allow demolition of a building if that can be avoided.

Density to fill foreseeable needs can be achieved at heights of three to six storeys. Six storeys is all that HRM staff see as appropriate immediately next door, which raises another point of inconsistency of approach.

The 1994 Halifax Common Master Plan is in the process of being revised: adjacent lots should not be on the agenda while that process is at work.

We ask council to leave intact the Municipal Planning Strategy policies for the Willow Tree site, and await the Centre Plan and Common Master Plan processes.

Howard Epstein writes on behalf of Friends of the Halifax Common. He is a retired HRM councillor, MLA and lawyer. He taught land-use planning law at Dalhousie University for many years and is author of Land-Use Planning, a law textbook.

This article was published on Jan 15 in the Chronicle Herald

Speak or Write for the Common Good – City Hall, 6pm Tues Jan 16

Save the date George Armoyan’s APL proposal for 20- 25- or 29- storeys at Quinpool, Robie & Parker next the the Halifax Common has a Public Hearing on Tuesday January 16th, 6pm at City Hall

Please attend – this tower is bad news for the Halifax Common and bad news for the neighbourhoods. It will cause shadows on the Oval for the entire afternoon skating season (see image) and year-round gusty winds at Robie-Quinpool-Parker and across the Common. It will loom over adjacent properties and the public open space at the Common and Parker St Park.

Twenty storeys isn’t allowed under present rules or under new draft Centre Plan rules but APL wants the Mayor and Council to break at least 7 rules that safeguard the public interest and protect the Halifax Common. Examples are…

  • Height: 2 – 4 times what’s allowed
  • Setbacks: not far enough from other properties or streets
  • On-site parking: less than required
  • Density: 4.7 times what’s allowed
  • Context: not compatible with neighbourhoods or Westwood’s 6-storey Robie St proposal.
  • Land-scaped open space: not enough
  • Traffic: too much

Don’t let HRM ignore the rules and the input of hundreds of common citizens who have told them to wait for the Centre Plan and finish the promised Master Plan for the Halifax Common. Respect the process. Respect the Plans.

This building harms the area and isn’t necessary. Densification doesn’t mean destroying neighbourhoods or public open space. And demolition isn’t sustainable; it takes 10-80 years for a new building that is 30% more efficient to overcome through efficient operation, the negative climate change impacts relating to construction. Renovation would use half as many materials and create twice as many jobs. Mid-rise (5-storey) development along Quinpool could create 2,500-2,800 new residential units that would easily blend with the main street.

Come and speak directly to the Mayor and Council before they decide. Ask them to make a decision to benefit the Common good not a private developer. If you can’t attend the public hearing please contact your Councillor AND write clerks@halifax.ca

Help spread the word with social media. Ask others for Help!

 

Rick Howe Interview re Master Plan Consultation

After 11 years of FHC work the Halifax Common Master Plan process has begun -23 years after city hall’s commitment. The first public meeting confirms that the place to start must be the informed and balanced 1994 Halifax Common Plan. We must plan for the entire Halifax Common. We can’t leave anything to private discussions between the city and “stakeholders”. We must ensure that the entire Halifax Common is protected including the perimeter. And we must get back some of what the City lost. A curiously timed example is the sale of CBC-TV’s building to Capital Health days before HRM awarded the Master Plan RFP. As with the former QEHS, Grace Maternity and School for the Blind this site was always to be returned to the Halifax Common.

Please listen to Rick Howe’s Dec 13th interview with me to learn why we commoners must focus on getting the best-possible-big-picture-plan and not let HRM’s pet projects such as an aquatic centre keep us from getting there.

As always we’ll need your help in 2018. First up will be a public hearing on the proposed 20-storey APL building (Robie & Quinpool) at City Hall, 6pm, Tuesday January 16th. Many thank for your support during 2017.
Best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year.
Happy Solstice. Welcome the return of light.

Peggy Cameron,
Co-chair, Friends of Halifax Common