Tag Archives: spot-rezoning

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

Help spread the word with social media. Ask others for Help!

 

Tell Council APL’s Proposal Needs to Start Over

Tomorrow (Tuesday Nov 14) APL is coming back to HRM Council arguing that their business case for Willow Tree only works at 25-storeys, not the 20-storeys that Council voted to bring to a public hearing. Please tell your Councillor not to yield to the developer’s pressure.
 
FHC agrees with Councillors Waye Mason and Lindell Smith who understand that APL’s now proposed 25-storey building for the Willow Tree is a new proposal and should start from the beginning of the application process. 
 

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by the Willow Tree Group

This is a fundamental change from the 20-storeys Council had previously voted to recommend go toa public hearing and it should go back to square one, said FHC’S Howard Epstein. And if 6-storeys is the right height for Westwood Develoment’s building next door on the Cruikshank property, there’s no reason why even 20-storeys should have been considered, let alone 25.

It isn’t just about the single issue of the height of the building-it is about the documented reasons and legitimate concerns of the many citizens who’ve participated and the need for more and better consideration of what the location can and should accommodate.
 
Let’s bring a bit of balance in representing the interests of citizens as well as those of developers. The Centre Plan is a draft only form at this time. What it proposes for this area has not been approved by the public or by the Mayor and Council – nor should it be. The RFP for the Masterplan for the Halifax Common has just be awarded.
 
This is an opportunity to do the right thing and start over with a process that benefits the Common not a private developer. Write or call your Councillor, asap!

Urgent-Common Neighbourhood Under Threat at Cunard, Robie & Compton

WTG Info sheet on proposal to demolish 7 mixed-use small-scale historic buildings and build an 8-storey apartment block at the NW corner of the Halifax Common- in the Cunard/ Robie/Compton neighbourhood.

What:  Please attend HRM’s Public meeting to give feedback on the proposed Tony’s Pizza development.

When: Wed. Oct. 11th, 7 pm

Where: Halifax Forum (Maritime Hall)

Can’t attend? Please write the clerks@halifax.ca about Case 20577

Details: Abe Salloum (owner of Tony’s Pizza) wants to demolish 7 buildings on Cunard St, Robie St, & Compton Ave. and erect an 8-storey apartment block with its parking garage in the Compton neighbourhood. The proposed block-buster building is not permitted. Because its height, density, multi-unit use, and commercial use (the same as The Keep, under construction at Quinpool/Vernon) aren’t allowed he and architect WM Fares want city hall to change the rules to match his building using a planning loop-hole. Continue reading

Developer Delays May 23rd Public Hearing – FHC Requests New HRM Staff Report

For the public record, FHC is calling for a new HRM report before a public hearing to consider APL’s 20 or 29 storey skyscraper is held. Inaccuracies, biases, omissions and false statements need to be corrected and the significant input by citizens be respected, otherwise the process is meaningless.

For a second time developer APL has asked to delay the HRM Public Hearing for its 20 or 29-storey highrise at Robie and Quinpool. FHC has written City Hall to request a new HRM staff report  before HRM Council holds a Public Hearing. FHC’s concerns about accuracy, bias and comprehensiveness of analyses and statements by staff and councilors are included in an executive summary to Mayor Savage, Councillors, and Chief of Planning Bob Bjerke. See PDF:
2017, May FHC Mayor & Council, new APL staff report
A second document details all 16 items of concern. See PDF:
Attachment, new APL staff report required

Citizens have been almost unanimous in their opposition to both 20 and 29-storeys but their knowledge and input are being ignored. There is no justification for the project which cannot be built under existing regulations or under the draft Centre Plan. If the HRM Staff Report is not corrected, the process is meaningless. Both the April 25th and now May 23rd dates have been cancelled at the request of the developer.

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. Continue reading