Dear Mayor Savage and Council:
Re: Take Immediate Action to obtain an amendment to HRM City Charter to control issuance of demolition permits.
I write to request that the HRM Municipal Council take immediate action to ask the provincial government for an amendment to the HRM Charter so as to obtain control over demolition permits.
The city needs to immediately develop policy around criteria and rules whereby the city would permit demolition of existing built properties. These criteria need to go beyond the very limited scope for safe demolition as governed under the Building Code Act. Some these may be incorporated into the Centre Plan. The issuance of demolition permits should be suspended until such time as these new policies and rules are in place. There is no shortage of empty lots available for development without further demolition of existing properties.
For example criteria and rules should include but not be limited to:
1. preservation of rental housing to prevent the conversion of rental property to private condos and housing;
2. prevention of lot consolidation for conversion of rental housing to other uses that remove the rental properties;
3. prevention of lot consolation for expansion of a non-conforming use;
4. preservation of heritage properties- normally a city has value for built heritage and should be protecting these;
5. preservation of properties with historic value even if these don’t have heritage designation;
6. preservation of small scale mixed use commercial properties.
Demolition should only be permitted if there is an approval for a new development. Such a project should conform to existing planning policies and regulations. Penalties should apply if the project does not go forward within a prescribed time frame.
Further regulations need to be developed through zoning to ensure that the transition from one use to another when permitted does not have a negative effect on abutting properties.
There are many situations in Halifax presently where demolition is affecting the availability of rental properties both residential and small-scale commercial and the quality of life, livability and general enjoyment of adjacent properties and experiences of pubic space.
For example you are already aware of the Cleveland House on Young Avenue, houses on Brenton Street, Clyde Street, South Park Street, Coburg Road, Vernon Street and 7 buildings on Doyle Street, Queen Street and Spring Garden Road.
More recently are the 17 properties on North Street, Robie Street, McCully Street, May Street and Fern Lane. Up-coming will be applications for demolition by Dexel Construction for properties between Carleton Street and Robie Street along the south side of Spring Garden Road. Following will be Killam Properties application for the demolition of properties on the SE corner of Spring Garden Road and Carleton St.
As per previous correspondence I attach “Older, Smaller, Better-measuring how the character of building blocks influences urban vitality” a study using empirical evidence to demonstrate the unique and valuable economic role that older, smaller buildings have in the development of sustainable cities.
Please take action immediately. Cities need guidance beyond the criteria of developers and car dealers.