Tag Archives: Carlton Street/Spring Garden Road

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

HRM Planning Information Meeting – Wednesday Dec 7th 19 proposals at 1 meeting

Please attend this important meeting and make comments on the 19 proposed developments…

The classic 3-storey Coburg Apartments, is an Edwardian-era building on the South Common that is under threat from the Two developers hope to erect 16 & 30 storey and 20 & 26 storey high-rises in the single block between Carlton, College, Robie and Spring Garden Road under debelopment agreement applications. targeted growth area- Spring Garden Road bounded by Robie, College, Summer Streets and Camp Hill Cemetery.

The classic 3-storey Coburg Apartments, an Edwardian-era building at Spring Garden and Robie, on the South Common,  is one of a dozen+ buildings that will be demolished by two developers if their plans for 16 & 30 storey and 20 & 26 storey high-rises in the single block between Carlton, College, Robie and Spring Garden Road are approved.

Most of the 19 proposals are for highrises that break existing height restrictions and are out-of -scale with neighbourhoods. They’ll cause dozens of affordable small-scale, mixed-use residential units, commercial spaces & historic houses to be demolished. This will harm Halifax’s Common in various ways. Examples are:

  • 13 storey on Robie, Cunard – Compton
  • 14 storey on Robie St, Pepperell – Shirley
  • 16 & 30 storey on Spring Garden Rd & Robie west of Carlton
  • 20 & 26 storey on College & Robie St west of Carlton

Continue reading

Centre Plan – The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain Stupid

There’s one good change for the Halifax Common in the draft Centre Plan but the rest seems like more bad news…
The Good The draft Centre Plan designates the Halifax Common a “Cultural Landscape” (p 54) but now it needs to make it meaningful by adopting the 1994 Halifax Common Plan as part of the Municipal Planning Strategy so the primary goals to not give up and to re-capture open space on Halifax’s Common are met not just platitudes.

The Bad Robie Street and a dozen other streets such as Cunard, Agricola, Chebucto are designated as “Corridors” with a goal of “redevelopment of new housing, commercial spaces and job opportunities in mixed use buildings” (p 96). By increasing permitted building heights to 4-6 storeys along Robie Street, the Centre Plan will create an incentive for developers to chew through a long-established, small-scale, mixed-use, Continue reading

HRM Planning Jamboree – Developers Take a Lesson from The Donald

 Mr. Trump in 1980 with a model of Trump Tower. Though it was built with 58 floors, he billed it as having 68 floors. Credit Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

Mr. Trump in 1980 with a model of Trump Tower. Though it was built with 58 floors, he billed it as having 68 floors. Credit Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

If  you’ve been watching the Halifax development scene maybe you weren’t surprized about the US election. You already know there are no rules.  A one-stop shopping jamboree for 18 new development agreement applications, with an open house style HRM Public Information Meeting on Wednesday, December 7, 12–2 and 6–8, at the Atlantica Hotel will determine the fate of a neighbourhood near you. If approved, many of the proposals will impact the Halifax Common, its perimeter and existing small scale mixed-use residential units, commercial spaces and heritage houses. Some example proposals include:

  • 13 storey tower at Robie between Cunard and Compton (NW corner of North Common);
  • 14 storey tower on Robie at Pepperell (near Common Roots Farm);
  • 16 & 30 storey towers at Spring Garden Road west of Carlton St.;
  • 20 & 26 storey towers on College, between Robie and Carlton St.

Yup, it feels like we’re living a paragraph out of a book that The Donald wrote. Got some architecturally note-worthy property? Go ahead demolish it. Want to replace it with a building that’s too tall for the lot size and doesn’t match the zoning?  Win approval by promising mixed-use, retail, office and residential. Want even more height?  Get more storeys in exchange for a “public” atrium, call it “public space” and put in kiosks to sell your own stuff. Or add art and parking. Maybe a bench? The higher, the richer. Don’t fuss, go ahead wreck the character of the neighbourhood. Call it densification, colour it walkable and sell it as sustainable.  Of course the developers can plan how the city will look – don’t they own the land? Don’t they make the rules?
This week Centre Plan presentations and consultations are at Dartmouth Sportsplex on November 16 & Dal on 17th.  December 2nd is the deadline to submit comments. Details here: http://centreplan.ca/

“Making a Bad Situation Worse,” FHC Centre Plan Submission

Centre Plan Primary and Secondary Targeted Growth Areas

Centre Plan Primary and Secondary Targeted Growth Areas

“We see the draft Centre Plan as making a bad situation worse. We urge a complete re-thinking of the draft Plan.”  Howard Epstein, Board Member, Friends of Halifax Common

Below are FHC Board Member Howard Epstein’s comments on HRM’s June 27th draft Centre Plan Growth Scenarios submitted to HRM Community Advisory Committee. His letter addresses concerns about the Plan’s general approach and the failure to protect the Halifax Common. Click Here to read previous FHC submissions to HRM’s Centre Plan (PDF) and here (previous post).


August 5, 2016

I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Friends of the Halifax Common to offer comments on the draft Centre Plan.

While the main focus of the FHC is on those aspects of the draft Plan that have immediate impact on the Common, we see those matters as arising in an overall context. That is, the general approach of the draft Plan is also reflected in those portions that are directly related to the Common. These comments, therefore, start with the overall approach of the draft Plan, and then move to specific focus on the Common. Continue reading