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
“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