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
(Halifax) An invalid 2014 on-line survey conducted by HRM staff about the high-rise developments proposed by Southwest Properties (Danny Chedrawe) and APL (George Armoyan) is being mis-used by a FOIPOP applicant. Due to concerns about the methodology of the survey, and the scientific accuracy HRM staff agreed that the survey was problematic in the way it was implemented and did not release the quantitative data obtained through the survey.

HRM staff person Carl Purvis has confirmed to Friends of Halifax Common via email that “outside of the FOIPOP process, we as staff came to an agreement with both applicants, as well as the community at-large that due to flaws in the survey, we would not be releasing the results. As such, we will not be posting them, using them in our staff decision making process, as we have agreed not to make them public. This is a position we also shared with the applicant when they first requested the results without a FOIPOP request. It continues to be our position today.”

However at the Jan 16 public hearing, Quinpool Road Mainstreet District’s General Manager, Karla Nicholson, used HRM’s on-line survey as one of the justifications for supporting 25-storeys at the Willow Tree location; 5-storeys more than the 20-storeys that was supposed to be considered during the public hearing: “HRM’s 2014 survey revealed that 47.2 percent of the respondents were in favour of 28 stories. This was by far the highest percentage of all of the following options that were given in the survey (such as 24, 16 and 12 stories).”

The present day 35-foot height limit on the Westwood property and a 45-foot height limit for the west part of the APL property was set by Council to protect the residents of two and three-storey houses on Parker Street and the Burton Wilkie house next to Cruickshank Funeral Home. This was consistent with the general policy to protect existing neighbourhoods.

HRM’s questionnaire on the web did not state what the present legal height restrictions were and did not allow residents to vote to keep the existing height limits. When the questionnaire mentions other heights in the area, it selected only other high-rises, and did not mention the neighbouring two-storey Burton Wilkie house or the Parker Street houses.

The survey also incorrectly stated that tall slender buildings cast less shadows than shorter, wider buildings. This is the reverse of the truth; for the same total floor area, a shorter building mathematically must cast less shadow than a taller one.

Although the on-line questionnaire provided incorrect and selective information, and only gave the public a choice between various high-rise options a more balanced and complete HRM survey was never developed. HRM staff listed the survey at the top of a summary of public comments in HRM’s summary report on Jan 20 2017 in support of height: “The online survey generally indicated support for increased heights for both properties.”

The survey has also been mentioned by Councillors as showing support for height at the location. HRM has not released the survey and has not publicly acknowledged that it is scientifically invalid. FHC requests to HRM staff, Mayor and Council that the confusion about the survey be corrected and that the staff report be re-written have been ignored. Other details of all the flaws relating to the staff reporting identified by FHC along with a request for a new report are here: