Tag Archives: 1994 Halifax Common Plan

News 95.7 Rick Howe; Privatizing the Halifax Common

The 1886 lease for the Wanderer’s Grounds to the amateur, non-profit Wanderer’s Amateur Athletic Club for sports such as baseball, lawn bowling, rugby and snow-shoeing ended in 1959 when the city took over management of the property.

Friday June 23rd is the 254th anniversary of the granting of the 235 acre Halifax Common “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax, as Commons forever”.

No difference to HRM Council which fast-tracked its further privatization by approving a for-profit private stadium at the Wanderers Grounds. Rick Howe interviews FHC on why this privatization is not in the best interests of the Common or the commoners.

Citizens are increasingly upset with HRM’s disregard for both their interests and the common good. About $1 million in citizens’ tax dollars is being spent to improve the Wanderers Grounds but amateur sports players will have at least 20% less field time. The developer has a stated agenda of locating a permanent sports and entertainment venue on the site. FHC is not opposed to the Stadium, just the location and it objects to yet another ad hoc decision being made before there is a Masterplan as committed to by the city of Halifax in 1994. 

 

Wanderer’s Grounds Facing Privatization

On Tuesday, June 20th Mayor Savage and Council approved the proposal for a private stadium on the public Wanderers’ Grounds. Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) have outlined our serious concerns about the bias of the City’s Staff Report and the staff’s recommendation to fast-track the approval for the pop-up stadium in a letter we delivered to City Council. In the letter, we do not object to the private-for-profit “pop-up” stadium proposal, but we do oppose the Wanderers’ Grounds as the location. See letter: 2017 FHC Mayor & Council, June stadium, staff report

Illustration of Proposed Pop-up Stadium on the Halifax Wanderers’ Grounds (a section of the publicly-owned Halifax Common)

The private stadium developer has stated that, “By two years of that three-year cycle, I think we’ll have a great idea on whether or not that site works and is there a desire for something more permanent on that site.” read more…

This important public civic space is already used to near-capacity by amateur sports players of all ages. The Stadium proposal favouring a professional team would take away at least 20% of present public use and entertain passive spectators to make a profit.

HRM Staff do not address the pro-ponent’s stated goal of having a long-term permanent stadium. Nor do they mention public tax payers have recently spent ~$ 1 million in fixing up the Grounds. Concerns about noise, parking, the effect on the area (Public Gardens, hospitals, Bengal Lancers, the Citadel, Camphill Cemetery) or the loss of citizens’ recreational space are being brushed aside.

Stadium seating for 6,000 including sixty port-a-potties, as well as shipping containers for food and alcohol are about to be approved without a Masterplan for the Halifax Common or any public consultation.

The 1994 Halifax Common Plan was a positive outcome of the collision between the for-profit, private use of the Halifax Common for the Moosehead Grand Prix and a groundswell of steadfast public unwillingness to endure that private use and its inconveniences. Comments from these documents mention that the public was fed up with how ad hoc the city was in its decisions about the common and a lack of process.

Its 2017. This makes twenty-three years of waiting for a Halifax Common Masterplan.

Contact City Hall with your opinions regarding privatization of the use of the Halifax Wanderers’ Grounds.

 

News 95.7, Rick Howe – “Pop-up” “Temporary” Stadium is Private & for Profit

Rick Howe talks with Peggy Cameron about why the best use of the Wanderer’s Grounds isn’t a private business person’s permanent

Halifax Common’s Wanderer’s Grounds (photo credit – Alvin Comitor)

3,000- 6000 seat stadium with 60 port-a-potties. In fact it isn’t even legal. Instead HRM needs to stay focused on the big picture – a master plan for the Halifax Common – committed to since 1994.

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.

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