Wanderer’s Grounds’ private “pop-up” “temporary” Stadium Illegal

‘Pop-Up’ ‘Temporary’ Stadium on the Wanderer’s Grounds is doublespeak for ‘Pre-fab’ ‘Permanent’. Sixty port-a-potties and professional soccer league team aren’t the right fit for the Common good.

A proposed private, long-term use of Halifax Common lands is not permitted under legislation governing the Halifax Common. Nor is it considered in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan documents which emphasize that temporary events are for a “limited amount of time” or a “short period of time” and understood to not restrict “general public use and access”.

Friends of Halifax Common asks HRM Mayor and Council to do its homework before it pursues a private partnership to put a 3,000 – 6,000 person stadium on the Halifax Commons’ Wanderer’s Grounds.

They have not yet received response to either January or April 2017 letters

2017 FHC letter, Mayor & Council, CAO stadium

2017 FHC Mayor and Council, stadium

The proposal involves many questions but the larger issue is the private use of the public’s space for private profit of a private businessman. The developer’s promotional language readily adopted by HRM staff or Council such as “pop-up” and “temporary” and “small” does not apply to the project as the private business seeks a substantive long-term commitment of three years and extension to six years or more.

The proposed project also involves considerable permanent and semi-permanent infrastructure including 3,000 – 6,000 seats and sixty port-a-potties. And it wants to attract a Halifax-based professional soccer team. The sports presenter business also hopes to host other outdoor sports and entertainment uses including rugby, lacrosse, volleyball, music concerts etc.

“Its disappointing that HRM is more motivated to set up a private business on the Halifax Common than to work on its basic commitment of managing the lands for public benefit,” said Peggy Cameron, co-chair of Friends of Halifax Common. “If the Wanderer’s Grounds was in such bad shape it couldn’t be used for last year’s Rugby Tournament that’s the reason to fix it this year, its not the reason to do a side-deal with a private business,” said Cameron.

FHC has written to Councillor Waye Mason to caution him against his selective use of the 1994 Halifax Common Plan to find statements that seem supportive of such a venture but that are taken out of context. The over arching theme of the documents is that “privately sponsored events with paid admission on the Common are acceptable provided they are open to all with paid admission and the public is denied general use for only a short period of time.”

Rather than just agreeing to the first unsolicited project idea for a stadium, FHC suggests that a better process would be for the Mayor and Council to issue an RFP. That process should have criteria for a site near where the bulk of HRM’s population lives, that is better served by public transit, parking and road access, and that if successful should be able to be made permanent or expand. Some possibilities might include Exhibition Park, Burnside, Bayer’s Lake, Dartmouth Crossing.

FHC was founded in 2007 and works to ensure that space on the Halifax Common is protected as per the public’s wishes and as recorded in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

Rick Howe 95.7 – Is Densification Promoting Demolition?

Hundreds of classic Halifax houses and streetscapes are under threat of demolition. (photo: Alvin Comiter)

April 4, 2017 –  Listen as Rick Howe interviews Peggy Cameron on why the Centre Plan will lead to demolition of hundreds of 2 & 3-storey Halifax & Dartmouth homes in growth centres and corridors areas such as Robie St, Spring Garden Rd, College St, Parker St, Chebucto Rd., etc.

See also
Critics fear Centre Plan lacks protection for heritage sites
Plan could be a ‘death sentence’ for hundreds of homes
April 02 story by CBC’s Pam Berman
Heritage advocates in Halifax are dismayed by what they say is a lack of protection for historic buildings and don’t believe new policies in the Centre Plan will improve the situation.
Three of the past four meetings of the city’s heritage advisory committee have been cancelled. City officials said there were no issues to discuss for two of those meetings.
“I find that unbelievable, given the amount that heritage is under threat,” Continue reading

Does Halifax need Missing “Gentle Density” or Armoyan’s 20-storeys?

FHC’s latest letter to City Council asking them to not approve a 20- or 29-storey highrise at Robie & Quinpool, at City Hall’s April 25th public hearing included Brent Toderian’s

Brent Toderian, former Vancouver city planner now advocates for what his photo shows Halifax already has, “gentle density”.

“Canadian Cities need more gentle density to address housing crunch. The former Vancouver city planner writes that ground-oriented housing that’s denser than a detached house is the “missing middle” in housing needs.
Something’s changed since Mr. Toderian’s keynote speach for the Dexel Group’s 2016 PR campaign promoting towers on the single block of the Halifax Common at Robie, College, Spring Garden and Carlton. Now it seems he would agree that 16-, 23-, 26- and 30-storey highrises are the wrong kind of game changer as they are not conducive to “preserving community building blocks” as part of planning for resilient, diverse, complete and affordable neighbourhoods. But as he describes, this same block is an ideal candidate for in-fill within the middle of the block that would respectfully compliment the existing mixed-use, small-scale historic neighbourhood.

Specific height restrictions by Carlton Street (35’, 45’ and 50’) protect the neighbourhood, as they do at Robie, Quinpool, Parker and Welsford where the present APL tower is located. Highrises built at this location in the 60s & 70s were recognized as incongruous mistakes. Height restrictions were put in place to protect the small scale, densely packed and stable neighbourhoods. And to protect the last 20-acres of open space on the Halifax Common, all that remains out of the 240-acre grant.

Citizens have been waiting since 1994 for a promised master plan for the Halifax Common. In the interim many acres of the Halifax Common have been built on or given over to parking lots to the extent that at present less than 20 acres remains as public open space. This is hard evidence and a relevant testament to how really bad planning results become when there is no over-arching vision for the long term. And unfortunately bad planning or no planning endure; what is damaged remains so.

Citizens have also been waiting years for the completion of the Centre Plan. Since that 2010 at least 179 development agreements applications been processed. Too many HRM planning staff (~18) are absorbed in working on Development Agreements when compared to the number working on the Centre Plan (~3). Should that be how HRM staff time is prioritized and allocated? Does your government not believe in the importance of the Centre Plan?

To plan for a city we need to ensure that development is within a context of city-building, not just developer buildings. Citizens are asking for precisely what Mr. Toderian suggests is the missing solution -gentle density respectful of neighbourhoods and of green space such as the Halifax Common.

Canadian cities need more ‘gentle density’ to address housing crunch

Ground-oriented housing that’s more dense than a detached house is the “missing middle” in the housing conversation.

By: Brent Toderian For Metro Published on Tue Mar 07 2017
If you could be a fly on the wall in city planning departments lately, chances are you’d overhear a conversation about “gentle density.” And the planners would look pretty stressed. Continue reading

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.

Please, Write to Stop this Shady Dealing!

Tell the Mayor and Council to Stop this Shady Dealing! Download the ‘poster’ here: Stop This Shady Dealing

HRM Council moves one step closer to approving a 20 or 29- storey mega-lithic money-maker tower for APL (George Armoyan) at Robie & Quinpool on March 21st. That’s against what 99% of citizens who spoke at public meetings or wrote letters want.

But letters don’t get carried forward so if you didn’t write in March, Councillors won’t know you are against this project!  You still have time to write to tell them to not continue the approval process. Ask them to focus on the Centre Plan and the Halifax Common Plan, not individual developers.

FYI – 20 storeys isn’t a compromise-its twice as high as what’s allowed, as what’s there & two floors higher than the convention centre.

This is the thin edge of the wedge as other developers are chomping at the heels of staff and council to get break rules for their proposed projects for  13-, 14-, 16-, 20-, 25-, 26- and 30-storeys on or next to the Halifax Common.

So if you care about protecting green space, stopping shadows and preventing wicked winds on the Oval, the Common Roots Urban Farm and everywhere else in the neighbourhood please write to the mayor and council and tell them not to approve either 20 or 29 storeys at the Willow Tree.

Tell the Mayor and Council we want a livable city, not shady deals! email, clerks@halifax.ns.ca Print the ‘poster’, spread the word Stop This Shady Dealing

Write to Stop 20+ or 29-storeys at Quinpool/Robie

Armoyan’s proposal comes before Council on Tuesday, March 21. As a next step, a public-hearing date will be scheduled. Please write to say: re Case 18966: Do not approve APL’s 20 or 29-storey tower at Robie & Quinpool at this time. Wait for the Centre Plan.

Dear Mayor and Council:
Please say “No!” to the proposed 20- or 29-storey Armoyan tower at Robie & Quinpool. What’s there, a 10-storey office tower, is what’s permitted. Don’t spot-rezone to advantage a private developer. Wait for the Centre Plan. Wait for the Halifax Common Master-plan.

To date, 120 individual written submissions, 3 community group submissions and a Willow Tree survey have opposed increased height at this corner. That’s 99%+ of all participants. Evidence in HRM’s staff report recommending 20-storeys (2 storeys higher than the convention centre) at this site is thin, biased and misleading.

Citizens’ right to peaceful enjoyment of their neighbourhoods, the Halifax Common, the Oval, the Common Roots Urban Farm or the skate park must be respected. Regulations for height restrictions at this corner exist precisely to protect the area against more or higher towers, wind, shade, blocked views, traffic etc. The existing towers are non-conforming anomalies, mistakes that should never be repeated or made worse.

Respect the citizens. We support responsible development; that is why you must respect the regulations and stick to the Plan.

Keep the Common Good.

Yours truly,
Name & Address