Most Haligonians are aware of recent news stories on the situation with the Province’s plans for hospital expansion on Halifax Common land. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has moved in and started excavations for several massive demolition and rebuilding projects, and apparently it is difficult for anyone, even HRM Councillors to get any information. (See Waye Mason’s OpEd) This whole situation is far from over, but it’s clear that the Department is acting well beyond any mandate it may have.
A 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between HRM and the Province governed the sale/swap of a number of parcels of land between the city and the Province, including the Queen Elizabeth High School Lands on the Halifax Common. Significant is the statement that ‘as a condition of sale, (HRM and the Province) approve the key Urban Design Principles and Site Planning Guidelines’. These appear on page 7 of the report and guess what the first one is? Collaborative Planning.
Clearly the Province is not following that or any of the other conditions out lined regarding the sale such as…
- Good Urban Planning/Urbanity
- Green Corridor
- Building Class, Landscaping and Condition
- Pedestrian Realm
- Interim Site Use
- Respect for Halifax Common Plan
- Future Use of the CBC Site
- Future Land Use Considerations
In addition there are also other significant considerations;
…the positive effects of green space on all aspects of health and the push by the city to densify population on the Peninsula mean green and open Common land is becoming ever more crucial
…and the growing body of information about the negative environmental effects of demolition and rebuilding. An article in the Globe and Mail, Saturday January 18 – By wrecking tall buildings are we contributing to the climate crisis? (pg. A7) points out that, “Globally the construction sector generates 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions” and that “The cement industry alone generates somewhere between 4 percent and 8 per cent of all emissions.” Then there is the ‘embodied energy’ from materials extraction, production and transportation which is lost in disposal. (And what about the waste of ’embodied money’?) Yet the Province’s plans, to the extent that anyone can gather the information, include massive demolitions and rebuilding.