Tag Archives: 1994 Halifax Common Plan

Halifax Common Consultation – Take Inspiration from the Work of Others

The 1763 Halifax Common grant was for 235 acres ” to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.” This entire area was to be considered for planning purposes in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

At the invitation of the Halifax Master-plan Consultants’ Team FHC reviewed and highlighted Ten Items from the 1994 Halifax Common Plan of Current Significance in creating a New Halifax Master Plan…

  1. Recognition that the need for a Plan for the Halifax Common was and is brought about “…partly from concern about the increasing number of changes and demands for use and the need for a plan and additional protection for the Halifax Common.”

  2. That the 235 acres of the Halifax Common, originally granted to the people of Halifax by royal decree in 1763 and specifically identified in 1859, must be considered as an entity with varying areas and fully addressed with the new Master Plan, otherwise either the boundary of the Halifax Common should be redrawn or the current planning effort re-named.

  3. That “First and foremost the Halifax Common is a public place...”, as the original charter provides, for “the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax forever.”

  4. Recognize that the Halifax Common has a “distinct character and identity” and “that the distinct character and integrity be recognized and strengthened and that a common design language be developed to create a cohesiveness throughout the Common.”

  5. That “aspects of the special character include: [in order of presentation] open space, trees, views and landmarks, historic significance, Freshwater Brook, public buildings, wide streets, wide sidewalks, black iron fences, and strong edges.”

  6. That thru its open spaces, trees, and pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems, the Halifax Common ties together the diverse residential, commercial, institutional and historic areas of Halifax, and that the boundaries of the Halifax Common are themselves important.

  7. That the Halifax Common serves as a neighbourhood park for many areas of Halifax as well as a destination park for the larger region, and that the private use of the Common be examined carefully and allowed by Halifax Council only if it is in keeping with the Common Plan.

  8. That the “recapture” of lands being used for non-public uses inconsistent with the intent of the Common Plan be undertaken by the [Municipality] wherever possible.

  9. That detailed planning guidelines and solutions be developed to address the numerous specific areas and needs of the Halifax Common.

  10. That the Plan “examine options and provide a recommendation on legislation to be used to protect the Halifax Common and assure that the Plan is followed.”

Two Halifax Common Stories – Thank you Halifax Magazine!

Two recent articles in Halifax Magazine about the Halifax Common are nicely informative with beautiful photos. For the Common Good by Katie Ingram describes FHC’s efforts to have the City honour its 1994 promise to keep the Common’s public open space and recapture its lost open space.  This is contrasted with HRM staff’s efforts to help developers such as George Armoyen’s APL with his 20-25 storey building at the Willow Tree and HRM’s council’s support for Derek Martin’s Atlantic Sports & Entertainment’s private 6-7,000 seat pop-up-stadium on the Wanderers’ Grounds. (HRM’s information about shadows is untrue)

A Tale of Two Commons by Heather White compares the Halifax Common with the Boston Common but discovers a history of very different governance, protection, uses and give-aways. Enjoy the read(s)! And thank you to Katie, Heather and Halifax Magazine.

 

CBC Mainstreet Interview -The Common Roots Farm Move is a Chance to Grow Our Parks!

CBC’s Bob Murphy interviews  Common Roots Urban Farm’s Jayme Melrose about its impending move from the former QEHS site on the Halifax Common.  FHC’s Peggy Cameron follows (at 09:40) to describe the search for a new location as a chance for the city to expand its parks and live up to its past commitments. More green space is essential for the Farm, for our health, and for our growing population.

The draft Centre Plan proposes adding 33,000 new residents in the next 15 years without any new public parks. Three examples using government-owned land to expand Common green space and relocate the Urban Farm are:

  1. St Pat’s on Quinpool- next to St Vincent’s seniors complex is an excellent sunny central location for the Farm. And plan to continue with green network extending to the North West Arm.
  2. The Cogwell Interchange near the Centennial Pool (and a new outdoor pool nearby) as plan to extend a green network to the Halifax Harbour
  3. The Park Within a Park at the former School for the Blind, now the VG Parking lot on the South Common; a commitment for 200 trees and 200 parking places, a scented garden, a small playground and a landscaped block of Tower Road promised in 1986. See more here http://www.halifaxcommon.ca/common-roots-urban-farm-needs-a-home-think-big/

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.

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

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