June 19, 2018
Dear Mayor and Council,
Friends of Halifax Common oppose this proposed 25-storey tower. Further we believe this project is the wrong focus for HRM staff, Council and the public at this time.
FHC has closely followed or participated in the ~ 20 “events” that have led to today’s extra public hearing. These included public information meetings, Peninsula Advisory Committee meetings, a survey, HRM staff reports and supplementary reports, Community Council and Council of the Whole reviews and votes and scheduled, cancelled and re-scheduled public hearings. FHC’s major review and request for a new comprehensive staff report submitted in May 2017 has been ignored.
This project’s consumption of HRM staff and Mayor and council resources paid for by the public tax dollar has all been to ensure that the desired profit of an unsolicited project owned by a single developer can be met and has proceeded without disclosure of any business case or financial evidence.
The proposed tower should not be considered for many reasons.
- It breaks 10 Halifax Peninsula Land Use By-laws under the Municipal Planning Strategy and could not be built under the draft Centre Plan.
- HRM staff have recommended against this height-they are your professionals.
- The majority of the public oppose the building and its not just a small vocal minority as asserted by the developer. An independent CRA poll found that over half of those polled supported 16 storeys or less and only 10% supported 25-storeys.
- Densification can happen but this project is not needed- Grant Wanzel and Steve Parcell, professors from Dalhousie’s School of architecture as members of the Willow Tree Group found that ~3000 residents could be added to the Quinpool Road area with in-fill and buildings of between 4-6 storeys. And under the Regional Plan 125 persons/acre can be accommodated in a 3-storey building or in 3 storeys of residential on a commercial base in the Quinpool Corridor.
- And finally other buildings can be and are being built without controversy because they conform to existing planning rules- a recent example is the 11-storey commercial and apartment building constructed by Ross Cantwell on Gottingen St., built as of right.
Ad hoc decision making that gives preferential treatment to individual developers instead of balancing it with the public interest is not the way to plan for the future of our city.
In 1994 the City of Halifax adopted the Halifax Common Plan which was the outcome of a public consultation process stemming from citizen frustration over ad hoc decisions It committed the city to develop a masterplan for the 235 acre Halifax Common in conjunction with overall planning of the city. The long term management plan was to encompass a vision that ensured protection of the Halifax Common and the recapture and the retention of Halifax Common land. Buildings that were meant to return to the Halifax Common included the CBC TV, the QEHS, the Grace Maternity,
It is a problem that HRM is making this decision about this individual developer’s 25-storey project without first following through on its commitment made with the 1994 Halifax Common plan – that is to complete the master plan and to do it within the context of planning for the city. This building and other proposed high rises under the draft Centre Plan and several individual Development Agreement processes in the works will have a huge and negative impact on the Halifax Common with increased wind, traffic, blocking the western sky and in this case a permanent shadow on afternoon skates on the Oval.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if staff resources and council time was focused on planning for our city? What if the priority was not that the owner of APL meets his desired profit but to complete the master plan for the Halifax Common and the draft Centre Plan?
Co-chair, Friends of Halifax Common