Electoral Report Card—FHC Grades Electoral Candidates

Friends of the Halifax Common distributed a three-question survey to Halifax Peninsula MLA electoral candidates and political party leaders to determine their commitment to the passage of an ‘Act to Protect the Halifax Common’ similar to the one protecting the Dartmouth Common, as well as two additional questions on future parking garages and on a commitment to reduce and re-naturalize existing parking spaces on the Common.

Report Card on MLA Candidate and Party Leader Responses

Green Party – A
New Democratic Party – B
Liberal Party – F
Progressive Conservative Party – F

Details here:
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FHC Submission to HRM Review of Regional Plan

We are deeply concerned about recent incursions into the Halifax Common…

The Halifax Common grant in 1763 was for 235 acres ” to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.” This entire area was to be considered for planning purposes in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

…from proposed multiple high rises (16-, 28-, 29- and 30-storey and ~900 cars – similar in mass to the Nova Centre) at the corner of Spring Garden Road and Robie Street; the expansion of major QE2 facilities onto parkland adjacent to the Natural History Museum and along Bell Road with two parking garages; the exclusive use of the Wanderer’s Grounds by a professional soccer team; the overwhelming use of the remaining open space of the Common of organized sports and programmed uses; the eviction of the Common Roots Urban Farm from the area and the slow progress of the Halifax Common Master Plan by HRM Staff begun in 2017 and that has been without significant public input for nearly two years. 

It is important to understand that the 240 acres of the Halifax Common from Robie to South Park and North Park Streets and Cunard to South Street, “given to the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax as Common forever,” in 1763, has deep historical significance; that it is one of the defining features of the urban form of Halifax; that it serves as a neighbourhood park in an area of increasing density under the Centre Plan; that Centre Plan Package B currently calls for no new green space; and most importantly that the diminishment of the Halifax Common has been going on for generations and will not stop with this generation unless given protection. Continue reading

FHC to HRM Staff- The Halifax Common Needs Good Planning Please!

The Halifax Common grant in 1763 was for 235 acres ” to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.” This entire area was to be considered for planning purposes in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

FHC executive members recently met with HRM planning staff to remind them of the importance of good planning and protection for the future of the Halifax Common under the the following themes: Consider the Common as a whole; Protection; Flexible space; Expand the Purview and Participatory.

!. Consider the Common as a whole. The historical boundary must be respected and highlighted, and an overall character needs to be established, not just for sidewalks, streets, and current public spaces, but to the extent possible for the Common as a whole.

2. Protection. It must be understood that without legislative protection, the dimishment of the Common, which has gone on for many years, will steadily continue in future years and generations. If so, one of the defining features of the urban form and history of Halifax will be irredeemably lost. Specific steps leading to the protection of the Common must be identified in the Plan. Continue reading

Chronicle Herald: Group concerned with proposed central Halifax highrise developments

Peggy Cameron of Development Options Halifax stands at Robie and College streets on Mon., July 5, 2021. The group is concerned that two central Halifax mixed-use development proposals will negatively impact the historic Carlton Street neighbourhood. – Noushin Ziafati

Noushin Ziafati – July 6, 2021
An advocacy group says it’s concerned that a set of proposed highrise developments in central Halifax will negatively impact the historic Carlton Street neighbourhood and that Halifax Regional Municipality hasn’t been transparent in the approval processes for the buildings, which a local councillor adamantly denies.
On June 23, Halifax regional council’s heritage advisory committee moved a proposed mixed-use development on lands fronting Robie, College and Carlton streets a step closer to approval.
The proposal, by developer Rovualis, calls for the relocation of an existing heritage building and another building with heritage value on College Street to the rear yards of 1452 and 1456 Carlton Street, as well as a mixed-use development consisting of a 29-storey plus penthouse tower and a 28-storey plus penthouse tower on College Street.
Peggy Cameron is a member of Development Options Halifax (DOH), a self- described citizens Continue reading

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. Continue reading

RONALD COLMAN: Shrunken Halifax Common mirrors global assault on green spaces

On June 23, 1763, King George III granted the 235-acre Halifax Common “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as common forever.”

an 18th century song protesting the English enclosures has stands proudly at St. Pat’s site since 2019.

Today, exactly 258 years later, what we fondly call “the Commons” is a mere 20 per cent of that original grant.

Some was used for public institutions. Some was sold to private developers for residential and commercial buildings. Another 20 per cent is for parking.

What happened here mirrors the loss of the commons in England.

In 1773, just 10 years after our Halifax Common grant, the English Parliament passed the Enclosure Act allowing landlords to fence off and privatize common land and remove commoners’ access.

Such enclosures over time consumed a fifth of England’s total area. They marked the end of the feudal era and the beginning of commercial agriculture and the economic system we call capitalism.

The goose’s song

That relentless enclosure of the Common and privatization of public land by so-called “public authorities” continues to this day.

For example, despite public consultations in 2015-16 strongly favouring community use of the public’s 3.3-acre St. Patrick’s High School site on Quinpool Road, Halifax regional council secretly sold the site last year for $37.6 million to developers.

Citizens wanted the space kept public — especially for the Common Roots Urban Farm. Now, 2019 zoning rules permit the developers to build up to 28 storeys there.


As a wonderfully pithy reminder of the rapacious hypocrisy of such state-aided privatizing of common space, an 18th century song protesting the English enclosures has stood proudly on that St. Patrick’s High site since 2019.

But the enclosure of the Common is not just a local story. And it’s not just ancient history. In fact, the theft of the Common is very literally the theft of our children’s inheritance. They will pay the bill for our present plunder.

Our global commons

The commons, after all, are our air and our water, our soils and our forests — our beautiful planet Earth upon which we depend for our very survival, and which our predatory economic system is relentlessly looting and destroying.

But this economic system so cleverly covers its tracks and conceals its true costs.

The greedier we are, the more we shop and buy, the faster we cut down our forests, overfish, kill other species, heat the planet, and poison the earth, water and sky, the more the economy grows. We call that “progress” and “development” and a “healthy” economy.

To avoid counting the true costs of our economic activity, economists have invented a whole language to befuddle and confuse us. They only count what we produce, buy and sell — a counting system they blandly call Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

And any collateral damage, like pollution, climate change, stress, addiction, and growing inequality, they conveniently label “externalities,” meaning they don’t count those things. They make them invisible as they do everything for which no money is exchanged — like raising your child, like green spaces, like the generous volunteer work of those staffing our COVID-testing sites.

Starting in 1997, our Nova Scotia Genuine Progress Index measured what really counts. Sadly, though, governments still swallow the old economic myths hook, line and sinker.

And so it has been for 258 years as the Halifax Common and the Earth’s commons were carved up and enclosed to make way for capital and commerce. And so it is with the St. Pat’s lands today.

GDP won’t count the value of a community-run urban farm or the joy of a family playing on a green meadow. But it celebrates the $37.6-million sale of that meadow to a developer, and it can’t wait to count the concrete, steel, fossil fuels, rent income, and boutique sales in the tower that will rise there.

Taking it back

So long as we refuse to value our commons, including this precious Earth, and turn a blind eye to its enclosure and privatization, we are wilfully complicit in its destruction and degradation.

And so, this 258th anniversary of the Halifax Common is bittersweet. We celebrate the precious green corner we have left, and can’t help but mourn the loss of what’s been stolen from the public domain and from our children.

Might we even use this moment of reflection to question our blind belief in this economic system whose harm now vastly exceeds its benefit?

Might we even dare to turn back the tide of expropriation? To honour the Indigenous view that “we belong to the land” instead of “the land belongs to us”? To reassert our common good? To take back our precious inheritance?

As that daring 18th century song on the St. Pat’s site proclaims: “Geese will still a common lack, Till they go and steal it back”! https://bit.ly/3qmtN7H
Guest Opinion: Ronald Colman of Halifax is founder of Genuine Progress Index Atlantic and author of What Really Counts: The Case for a Sustainable and Equitable Economy (Columbia University Press. 2021)

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