Carlton Block’s “Upward Creep” Proposals Ignore Both Public Concerns and HRM Regional Plan Policy Considerations

Media Release
July 4, 2021 –For immediate release

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) HRM’s response to significant public concerns over two massive Spring Garden Road high-rises that will overwhelm and negatively impact the entire historic Carlton Street neighbourhood has been to give the developers even more height.

Regional Plan Policy CH-16-Development Abutting Heritage Properties- 5 guidelines are ignored

On June 23, the HRM Heritage Advisory Committee moved the Rouvails proposal-Case 20761, at Robie Street, College Street and Carlton Street a step closer to approval, with the new heights now increased to 28 and 29 storeys plus penthouses from the original proposal of 20 and 26 storeys. This development will be adjacent to Dexel’s proposal- Case 20218, for two towers originally proposed as 16 and 30 storeys but now also approved for up to 90m or 29 storeys plus penthouses.

 

Together these four towers, each close to 30 storeys in less than a single block, will be next to Carlton Street, a municipally-, provincially-, and federally-designated heritage area— “a rare, early Victorian streetscape”. 

But these proposals clearly contravene the following five Policy Considerations under the Regional Plan Policy CH-16 for development abutting heritage properties.

  • The proposals’ siting and footprint do not respect the existing development.
  • The proposals do not respect the existing front and side yard setbacks of the street.
  • The proposals will unreasonably create shadow effects on public spaces and heritage resources as they dominate the southern and western sky. (Not to mention the effect of wind.)
  • The proposals do not complement the historic fabric and open space qualities of the existing streetscape.
  • And the proposals do nothing to minimize the loss of landscaped open space.

Development Options Halifax (DOH), has been working to improve public process by better informing citizens and Council about such proposals. The two proposals in question have been proceeding separately through the approval process. Only though our work to show the four towers together did citizens become informed that the four towers are on the same block. 

DOH also created a 3-D-printed model of the proposed towers which were 16-, 30- and 20-, 26-storeys at that time, and an alternative in-fill design that would in-fill conserve all but one of the existing buildings. This model showed the harm from too much density, mass, wind, shadow, traffic and parking (now estimated at approximately 891 cars). We also highlighted the loss of 12-14 small scale, 87 affordable housing and 22 commercial units that will be demolished-equivalent to a 12-storey apartment building. 

DOH continues to advocate for consultation with more extensive 3-D modelling to examine the cumulative impact of these four new towers. In addition to 6-8 towers already in the area another 4-5 towers that are proposed or approved for this direct area, the corner of Spring Garden Road and Robie Streets will become a planning disaster.

Development Options Halifax (DOH), a citizens group championing transparency in urban development, is challenging the city’s faulty processes. DOH asks: why would Halifax Regional Municipality spend money to develop plans, and host public consultations only to proceed without any regard or respect for either?

The developments are unnecessary. Distributed density with in-fill and low-rise buildings can achieve better out-comes than towers that contribute to sprawl by demolishing affordable units and inflating rental prices. 

These proposals should not be approved. In the future, among other things, they will be named climate crimes.

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June 23, Heritage Advisory Committee meeting approving the latest Rouvalis proposal video begins at 1:35https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pb5TbPYCas)