Tag Archives: Carlton Street/Spring Garden Road

Unanimous Approval of Carlton St Developments New Low In City Governance

This small-scale mixed use block on Spring Garden Rd is part of 12 buildings & 80 – 100 affordable housing & commercial units to be demolished in the historic Carlton St neighbourhood. As building & construction produce ~40% of greenhouse gas emissions UK architects recently set a policy of upgrading existing buildings for extended uses as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build.

Mayor Savage and Council’s unanimous approval of two proposal for four towers in historic Carlton Street’s neighbourhood is a new low in city governance. Eight hundred+ citizens petitioned against the proposals and a dozen+ speakers at July 15th’s special meeting spoke in opposition. HRM ignored Development Options Halifax’s requests to present a 3-D model showing the neighbourhood with the proposed developments and a better option 9-storey model that would have retained 10 of the 12 buildings now slated for demolition.
Listen to Rick Howe’s interview with Peggy Cameron to learn more about how democratic process and the Centre Plan are seriously off the rails in HRM…


Comedian Cathy Jones says Halifax losing ‘its livability and its character’ due to high-rise developments

Comedian Cathy Jones says Halifax losing ‘its livability and its character’ due to high-rise developments

Comedian Cathy Jones speaks from the steps of city hall Thursday morning, asking Halifax regional council to step up to change proposed high-density developments for the block of Spring Garden Road and Robie, Carlton and College streets. – Francis Campbell

Cathy Jones thrives on an ability to make people laugh, to get a rise out of a live or TV audience. But the 64-year-old St. John’s-born comedian doesn’t see the proliferation of proposed highrise developments on peninsular Halifax as a laughing matter.

“My point here today is to challenge city council to do better for the city of Halifax,” Jones said Thursday from the steps of city hall. “Who is the city council working for? The people of this city elect a city council believing in some small way that they actually represent them, when in fact, the proposals of these kinds of buildings for our downtown are so off base.”

Jones referred to proposed developments as city duncity instead of density. She was talking particularly about two separate development proposals that would bring four towers of 30, 26, 20 and 16 storeys to a one-hectare block of property at Spring Garden Road and Robie, Carlton and College streets. The projects would accommodate two multi-use developments and would move the Cold Cure Institute building and the McCoy Building a short distance from their College Street foundations to 1452-1456 Carlton St. Several buildings would be demolished. Those developments are scheduled to be discussed at council Monday evening.

Jones also commented on the three developments that were approved late Wednesday night after regional council burned the midnight oil for three public meetings.

An eight-storey plus penthouse building on Wellington Street in south-end Halifax passed by a vote of 11-3 Wednesday. A redevelopment and addition to the corner of South Park Sreet and Victoria Road and a three-building, 100-unit development on a 72,000-square-foot property between Bayers Road and Young Street also passed.

“Last night, in the middle of the summer when many people are not in town, the city pushed through a proposal for three new highrises,” said Jones, who has lived in Halifax for nearly 26 years.

 a proportional 3-D-printed model of proposed developments at Spring Garden Road and Robie Streets developed by a volunteer citizen group.
A proportional 3-D-printed model of proposed developments at Spring Garden Road and Robie Streets developed by a volunteer citizen group.

“The city is losing all of its livability and its character and its practical community quality because of these monoliths that the city council is approving left, right and centre, going up without consulting properly the people who live here,” Jones said.

“When all the nice neighbourhoods are destroyed, the walkability and livable quality, nobody who used to live there will be living in these buildings. I have been on TV for 30 years and I couldn’t afford to live in one of these buildings. All over this city are people looking for housing, families who want to stay downtown.”

Development Options Halifax calls for all developments presently under consideration and proposed changes under the Centre Plan to be modeled before approval. They are asking citizens to sign a petition found HERE.

“I want the city to say, no, we’re not doing these developments,” said Peggy Cameron of Development Options. “I want them to recognize that this (Carlton developments) is a heritage neighbourhood. In 2012, 2016, the heritage trust asked for this whole neighbourhood to be considered for a heritage district, they were ignored. Yet, the city quite happily entertained two developers for four towers. It’s too massive, it’s too large, it’s 80 per cent the size of the Nova Centre and it’s not necessary.”

Hadrian Laing, an architectural student at Dalhousie University, has produced a 3D model of the Carlton development projects, showing what the block of property looks like now and what it will look if the developments go ahead. Laing said he has massed an alternative development proposal that would create 303 new residential units without exceeding nine storeys in height. It would also save a couple of existing buildings.

 An artist rendering of new developments at Spring Garden Road, Carlton, College and Robie streets.
An artist rendering of new developments at Spring Garden Road, Carlton, College and Robie streets.

Janet Brush, 72, a lifelong Halifax resident who now lives on London Street, said destroying buildings is not a sound idea.

“One thing that really outrages me is tearing down perfectly good buildings to put up these monoliths,” Brush said. “All that stuff goes in the landfill and there are empty spaces where they could allow something like this, like the old St. Pat’s site for example. To tear down perfectly good buildings is to me an outrage. Climate change, our landfills filling up, it’s just such a horrible waste. We have the technology to build buildings that will last thousands of years. We build buildings and tear them down.”

Jones, a veteran of the This Hour Has 22 Minutes satrical and parody comedy show, joked that she and her supporters were the new city council.

“As of 10:30 this morning we took over and we have a much better plan for the city,” Jones said.

None of the elected councillors or the mayor popped out of the city hall building to comment.

“I thought one or two would come out,” Brush said. “I am very disappointed, especially in the mayor (Mike Savage). I thought he was doing a good job the first few years but I’m beginning to change my mind on that.”

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HOWARD EPSTEIN: HRM council is kowtowing to developers

Chronicle Herald, July 8, 2019

This is the council that is making Halifax unlivable.

The main problems are in the unaffordability of housing and congested transportation. Council is not doing its basic job.

Its consideration of the two proposals for the Spring Garden Road/Robie Street/Carlton/College Street block illustrates the problem.

Not that this is the only example. Think of the clutch of 20- to 30-storey skyscrapers council has approved in the last few years. The Willow Tree. Kings Wharf. Various ones on Robie Street and Young Street.

After the first few, one councillor noted that the public had stopped coming to hearings to object. The councillor drew the incorrect conclusion that high-rises have become acceptable to residents. That is not so. We have just come to see that this council is so completely uncritical of development proposals that there is virtually no point in attending, to put better ideas forward.

Council shows no interest in thinking about what is in the best interests of the overall community. Council does show that it is prepared to say “yes, sir, yes, sir” to almost any proposal that the developers put forward.

There is an obvious list of needed priorities that council ought to be attending to before pulling out all the stops to accommodate the dreams of riches that developers have. Affordable housing. Green space. Public transportation. Energy efficiencies. Climate change.

Why does council ignore these essential matters?

Let’s leave aside the contributions to election campaigns.

What council and staff reports suggest is that this is what’s driving their decisions: demand for housing, construction jobs, more taxes, and no municipal risk (meaning, if developers want to build it, why not let them?).

Each of these is erroneous thinking.

* There is demand for housing. The issue is form and affordability. All demand for housing for the foreseeable future in HRM is already met by pre-existing approved lots (2013 Stantec study, ‘Quantifying the Costs and Benefits of Alternative Growth Scenarios’, @ Table 3.6, available online). If something different is needed, it could be through low-rise buildings compatible with existing neighbourhoods.

* Construction jobs can be achieved through alternative styles of housing. Renovations and infill generate jobs.

* More taxation is not at all guaranteed. Commercial space in the central business district has been overbuilt. That is why there is a 20 per cent vacancy rate. And why owners have asked for a lower tax rate, which shifts tax burden to the residential homeowner, since HRM expenditures will not go down.

* Risk is actually present. Not for HRM as a government, but for all of us who own houses and businesses, and who try to live here. Wind from skyscrapers make walking unpleasant, and in the steep downtown streets, dangerous. Shadows make for unpleasant canyons without sunlight, and ruin solar energy options. The housing is not affordable. The housing is not aimed at families with children. To the limited extent it is, where are the new neighbourhood parks and playgrounds for the families?

It is well-documented that there are overall environmental benefits from maintaining and renovating existing buildings compared to new construction (K. Rosenfield, The Greenest Building, 2012).

I understand the push for densification of the Halifax peninsula and central Dartmouth. Major employers, services and attractions are here (universities, hospitals, the port, the navy, government offices, the shipyard, restaurants, bars, entertainment, etc.). People want to live reasonably handy to work if at all possible. Commuting is time-consuming, expensive and irritating.

But, again, the affordability and style of housing is key. Densification can be achieved at a much lower height by looking at how we can build neighbourhoods that are pleasant, livable, and affordable. The communal effort that gave us the Hydrostone, and the maintenance of Schmidtville, are our precedents.

Council is now engaged in rushing through lots of proposals before the Centre Plan comes into effect. But the draft Centre Plan itself has many major flaws.

What is driving the Centre Plan is not innovative ways to strengthen our community. It is the fact that the developers in our midst have bought up various blocks, and the locations they own are the sites the Centre Plan is designating for high-rises.

This is not a council that is planning for the overall benefit of the community. This is a council that has fallen in love with one segment of the community. Definitely time for a change.

Howard Epstein is a former HRM councillor and MLA. He lives in Halifax.

Citizens See 3-D model – but HRM won’t look!

Development Option Halifax’s 3-D model of 2 Carlton Street proposals shows them together together for the first time.  This cheap and available technology helps understand the scale, perspective and placement. Unfortunately HRM’s Heritage Advisory Committee ignored requests to present the 3-D model to aid them in their approval process. Listen to Sheldon MacLeod’s interview with Peggy Cameron to learn why we need 3-D models for all developments and for proposed changes under the Centre Plan.

Vancouver requires 3-D models for all proposed developments.

3-D Model Shows the Big Picture


Hadrian Laing presents his model of proposed Carlton Street developments to a group of interested citizens.

Development Options Halifax wants the city to require 3-D models for all developments and for changes proposed with the Centre Plan.
Learn why in this interview from News 95.7FM where host Todd Veinotte speaks with the architect and 3-D modeller Hadrian Laing:
Then read & sign the petition – https://forms.gle/3enTs6PfSkmMmNW48

Dear Centre Plan, Show us your 3-D models!

Dalhousie architecture student Hadrian Laing volunteered to produce this 3-D model of 4 towers proposed for historic the Carlton St. neighbourhood- together & for the first time!

FHC has joined other citizens to form Development Options Halifax. Recently the public saw our 3-D print model of 4 towers that 2 developers want to build at Carleton, College, Spring Garden and Robie. This technology is readily available, effective and  cheap but it’s the first time it’s been used to model developments for Halifax citizens. 

In January we developed and showed the public drawings of the two proposals together, again for the first timeeven though they’re on the same block HRM processes and meetings have been entirely separate! The model is so successful we call on HRM to provide 3-D print models of all proposed developments and Centre Plan changes in advance of its approval. The public has the right to know what HRM plans for the city. This “to scale” model captures how out-of-scale the proposals, at 80% the square footage of the convention centre, are. It allows a comparison of before and after, and helps explore better options for in-fill respectful of Halifax Common’s last historic neighbourhood.

HRM planning needs a more open, transparent process. During June 2016 Centre Plan public consultations, HRM Staff story-boards suggested their target of addition 400 residents to the area could be accommodated in two 10-storey buildings or one 10-storey building and two 5-storey buildings. But Staff didn’t include the already approved 18-storey high-rise that Killam will build on Carlton by Camp Hill Cemetery – it would house 70% of the 400 residents!

There are so many unanswered questions. How is it volunteers are showing the mass and scale of these developments together to the public for the first time? And presenting the first 3-D model? Why are the 2012 and 2016 requests by Heritage Trust for the last historic neighbourhood on the Halifax Common to be designated as a conservation area being ignored? Almost 50% of the buildings are heritage and another 11 qualify. Why is HRM planning for the wasteful destruction of up to 12 buildings? Its a small-scale, mixed-use, commercial and residential neighborhood with many affordable units and hidden density.

There are better options. The 3-D model helped us visualize and calculate that 8-storey buildings could be constructed in the 48,000 sq ft of parking area in the centre of the block. These could accommodate approximately 213  two-bedroom units or ~534 people. Similarly a low-rise building could be built at Killam’s property at 5880 Spring Garden Road next to the Glitter Bean. The towers are not necessary.

Please ask the Mayor and Council to not approve these 2 developments. Sign the petition: https://forms.gle/3enTs6PfSkmMmNW48