Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth High School

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/

Common Roots Urban Farm Needs a Home- Think BIG!

In return for the School for the Blind land being given to the VG, citizens were promised a fully landscaped Park within a Park (200 trees & 200 parking places), a scented garden and a landscaped path along the block of Tower Road. Maybe the VG Parking lot can be a new urban farm?

Common Roots Urban Farm will need a new home after this growing season. Plan to attend the public engagement session – Wed, April 11, 7-9 pm, at Citadel High’s Atrium to explore ideas for its future.

Its time to think bigger! That’s how we got the Urban Farm in the first place. Back in 2007 HRM and Capital Health brokered a land swap for the Queen Elizabeth High site even though it was to return to the Halifax Common. The backroom deal was done before any public consultation. FHC challenged the sale of the Common and managed to convince some smart folks at Capital Health that a good interim use would be a farm/garden. Then FHC introduced them to gardening doula Jayme Melrose and slowly after a genuine public engagement process and a lot of hard work the Common Roots Urban Farm grew.

We need more Common not less. Despite growing evidence that public open space is vital for health and well-being HRM’s draft Centre Plan proposes adding 33,000 new residents in the next 15 years without any new public green space or parks, just higher buildings & more shade, especially on and near the Common. And the Health Authority which sits on 50-60 acres of Halifax Common isn’t clear it places any value on open space (unless you count parking lots).
While other cities around the world are creating new parks HRM can only imagine how to sell, give or trade its public lands, surplus schools and even streets on the Peninsula for development.

We are losing ground. The Halifax Common’s open space is already about 20% of the original 235-acre grant. Recently, without any public process, HRM rushed to support a private-for-profit-pop-up-stadium for a professional soccer team on the newly refurbished Wanderer’s Grounds, even though the field is fully booked with amateur players. And days before the consultation for the Halifax Common Master Plan was announced, HRM silently watched Capital Health purchase the CBC TV Building instead of ensuring its return to the Common. There easily another dozen other examples of HRM approved losses.

We can increase public green space by using city-owned land to extend the Halifax Common and expand its green network. Here are 3 ideas for three directions.

  1. West- Selling the former St Pat’s High School site is short-sighted. On Quinpool, next to St Vincent’s seniors’ home it would be a perfect new location for the Farm. Planning for the future it could be the start of a green route all the way to the North West Arm.
  2. East- Create a green park on the Cogswell Interchange that goes from the Halifax Common to the Halifax Harbour. Place the Farm on the Centennial Pool parking lot with a new outdoor pool nearby.
  3. South- Have the city and province honour their 1986 commitment that the former School for the Blind site would a landscaped Park within a Park and public pathway. (see image)

HRM is too careless with our Common. Short term profit is no match for the long-term pay-back of expanding our city’s green space and improving our health, habitat and especially our ability to weather climate change.

So far HRM has not included either the Health Authority, Dalhousie or private lands on the Common in the public consultation process for the Common’s Masterplan. Again this ignores the 1994 Halifax Common Plan. It also pretends that HRM cannot assume its normal government role to regulate planning throughout the entire Common. Being hands-off does not protect the Common but it certainly serves the purposes of developers be they private or institutional.

Its time to cultivate a green attitude. Faced with a dwindling Halifax Common its pretty clear that if we want a Common we better be prepared to defend the Common. Giving away the Common is a bad HRM habit. Every bit counts. So speak up and ask for more not less!

FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/374118636330757/everyone who appreciates the farm to help envision the farm’s future at a public engagement session on April 11.

Rick Howe Interview: St Pat’s Land- Plan For Our Future

Common Roots Urban Farm is an inspiration. In 2007 instead of returning the former QEHS land to the Halifax Common as promised, HRM traded it to Capital Health. FHC and smart Capital Health decision-makers agreed that a community garden would be a good interim use. In the 5 years since a valid public consultation, gardening doula Jayme Melrose’s imaginative

In 5 years Jayme Melrose and her team of volunteers have transformed the QEHS land into a place of productive beauty. Let's have a vision for St Pat's that's bigger than a developer's profit.

The QEHS land is now a place of productive beauty. We need a vision for St Pat’s that is bigger than a developer’s profit.

guidance and amazing volunteers have transformed it into a productive, edible landscape. But it’s temporary.
Rick Howe’s interview with Peggy Cameron explains why the Mayor & Council’s decision to sell St. Pat’s is just as short-sighted as the loss of QEHS. Listen to the recording below and then write <clerks@halifax.ca> to tell them to keep the St Pat’s land public.

The Coast, Editorial – Looking for Common Sense

E D I TO R I A L by Bruce Wark

Looking for Common sense
The land deal between the city & the province chips another piece off of the Halifax Commons
Rodney - Common Sense?I call it city council’s royal fuck-up. The Queen’s High School
is being traded to the Queen’s Hospital for a new central library on—where else—Queen Street. And we’re all worse off. The deal means another chunk of the Halifax Common is about to disappear. It’s all part of a
land swap between city and province that council approved last week.
Believe it or not, the city is giving away 269,000 square feet of prime downtown land in return for 131,000 square feet of prime downtown land and paying nearly two million bucks for the privilege. Under the deal, the province gets the former Birks site on Barrington to build more
office space plus the Queen Elizabeth High site at Robie and Bell for expansion of the QE II Infirmary. In return, the city gets the block on Queen between Spring Garden and Morris for a central library, officespace, shops and housing.
City officials say the Queen Street land is more valuable than the QEH and Birks properties so that’s why the city is paying the province an extra $1.9 million and getting less than half the land. Even if that’s true, there’s another issue here that makes this land swap a real royal stinker. Council

Continue reading

Halifax Metro News – Hospital space trumps green space in Common decision

By Lindsay Jones

The Queen Elizabeth High School property is part of a land swap between the city and the province.

The Queen Elizabeth High School property is part of a land swap between the city and the province.

Regional council approved giving up the rest of the Queen Elizabeth High School land to become part of a hospital expansion yesterday.

The city is exchanging the former Halifax Common land, as well as several other parcels, with the province to help pay for land at the corner of Queen Street and Spring Garden Road. That’s the site where the city wants to build a new Central Library. Continue reading

Media Release – Common for Sale?

Is the Halifax Common for Sale?

HRM Council is going to sell the Queen Elizabeth High School site, Halifax Common land. This is to facilitate Flagship Developments on Spring Garden Road & Queen (the new public library) and the Grand Parade & Province House.

The Halifax Common Plan is very specific about the amount of city-owned land in the Halifax Common not being decreased (3.1). The Plan recommends preserving public open space for a variety of outdoor recreation and leisure activities or other suitable public uses.

It specifically mentions the Queen Elizabeth High School as being an example of a property to be returned to the city when it is declared surplus by the School Board. At 5.5 acres it is the largest parcel of land that could revert to public open green space.

Friends of the Halifax Common believes the newly constructed Halifax Infirmary Emergency site (which happened without due process) could be leased to the province BUT the balance of the Queen Elizabeth High School lands should become public open green space. Continue reading