Tag Archives: St Pat’s High School

FHC Requests HRM Auditor General Review Public Consultative Process as a Charter Matter

August, 2020-Letter to HRM Auditor General
Re- Review of HRM Planning’s public consultative process as a Charter matter
This letter (accompanied by 10 brief case studies) is to request that HRM Auditor General conduct a review of HRM Planning Department’s public engagement process and outcomes with respect to HRM planning and council votes. In writing to you we wish to note that we are aware of your July 2018 report to HRM Council on the operation of the Planning Department with respect to development agreements. We are prompted to write regarding a crucial aspect of the operations of that Department not addressed in the report, namely public participation.
The HRM Charter, Part VIII, s.208 states: “The purpose of this Part is to …(c) establish a consultative process to ensure the right of the public…to participate in the formulation of planning strategies…”
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Welcome Spring Around the Common!

FHC’s 2014 photographic exhibition “Parking the Common” found 20-25% of the Common is parking, a private use of public space. Making the Common Halifax’s first car free zone would be an investment in our future. Imagine Central Park as you walk the 4km perimeter to welcome Spring! Cunard, North Park, Ahern, South Park, South, Robie.

Why not welcome Spring with a walk around the Common?  The perimeter  is ~4km and it takes ~1 hour to circumnavigate. Until now public directives telling us to stay at home to help flatten the COVID-19 curve have not banned being outside. That’s lucky, as while our society prioritizes health benefits associated with rigorous physical activity – sports, running, gym-workouts – having regular outdoor time has important physical and mental health benefits such as reducing anxiety, stress and negative emotions; improving memory, immunity, healing, focus, vision, longevity; and managing weight or growing food! See FHC bibliography greenspace

Remember to respect the 2m social distancing directive as many countries have shut parks Continue reading

Common Roots Urban Farm – Transplant it to St Pat’s!

Gardening doula Jayme Melrose at Common Roots Urban Farm (Chronicle Herald, Christian LaForce / Staff / 2015)

An idea planted by FHC led Jayme Melrose and  her volunteers to transform QEHS lands into a place of productive beauty. Now the farm is evicted and still homeless. So let’s imagine the St Pat’s site with that same vision & ask HRM to transplant Common Roots to Quinpool. 95.7’s Listen to Sheldon MacLeod’s interview with FCH for details. 

 

Time to care for Canada’s oldest, besieged Common – Chronicle Herald Op Ed

CBC Mainstreet Interview -The Common Roots Farm Move is a Chance to Grow Our Parks!

CBC’s Bob Murphy interviews  Common Roots Urban Farm’s Jayme Melrose about its impending move from the former QEHS site on the Halifax Common.  FHC’s Peggy Cameron follows (at 09:40) to describe the search for a new location as a chance for the city to expand its parks and live up to its past commitments. More green space is essential for the Farm, for our health, and for our growing population.

The draft Centre Plan proposes adding 33,000 new residents in the next 15 years without any new public parks. Three examples using government-owned land to expand Common green space and relocate the Urban Farm are:

  1. St Pat’s on Quinpool- next to St Vincent’s seniors complex is an excellent sunny central location for the Farm. And plan to continue with green network extending to the North West Arm.
  2. The Cogwell Interchange near the Centennial Pool (and a new outdoor pool nearby) as plan to extend a green network to the Halifax Harbour
  3. The Park Within a Park at the former School for the Blind, now the VG Parking lot on the South Common; a commitment for 200 trees and 200 parking places, a scented garden, a small playground and a landscaped block of Tower Road promised in 1986. See more here http://www.halifaxcommon.ca/common-roots-urban-farm-needs-a-home-think-big/

Common Roots Urban Farm Needs a Home- Think BIG!

In return for the School for the Blind land being given to the VG, citizens were promised a fully landscaped Park within a Park (200 trees & 200 parking places), a scented garden and a landscaped path along the block of Tower Road. Maybe the VG Parking lot can be a new urban farm?

Common Roots Urban Farm will need a new home after this growing season. Plan to attend the public engagement session – Wed, April 11, 7-9 pm, at Citadel High’s Atrium to explore ideas for its future.

Its time to think bigger! That’s how we got the Urban Farm in the first place. Back in 2007 HRM and Capital Health brokered a land swap for the Queen Elizabeth High site even though it was to return to the Halifax Common. The backroom deal was done before any public consultation. FHC challenged the sale of the Common and managed to convince some smart folks at Capital Health that a good interim use would be a farm/garden. Then FHC introduced them to gardening doula Jayme Melrose and slowly after a genuine public engagement process and a lot of hard work the Common Roots Urban Farm grew.

We need more Common not less. Despite growing evidence that public open space is vital for health and well-being HRM’s draft Centre Plan proposes adding 33,000 new residents in the next 15 years without any new public green space or parks, just higher buildings & more shade, especially on and near the Common. And the Health Authority which sits on 50-60 acres of Halifax Common isn’t clear it places any value on open space (unless you count parking lots).
While other cities around the world are creating new parks HRM can only imagine how to sell, give or trade its public lands, surplus schools and even streets on the Peninsula for development.

We are losing ground. The Halifax Common’s open space is already about 20% of the original 235-acre grant. Recently, without any public process, HRM rushed to support a private-for-profit-pop-up-stadium for a professional soccer team on the newly refurbished Wanderer’s Grounds, even though the field is fully booked with amateur players. And days before the consultation for the Halifax Common Master Plan was announced, HRM silently watched Capital Health purchase the CBC TV Building instead of ensuring its return to the Common. There easily another dozen other examples of HRM approved losses.

We can increase public green space by using city-owned land to extend the Halifax Common and expand its green network. Here are 3 ideas for three directions.

  1. West- Selling the former St Pat’s High School site is short-sighted. On Quinpool, next to St Vincent’s seniors’ home it would be a perfect new location for the Farm. Planning for the future it could be the start of a green route all the way to the North West Arm.
  2. East- Create a green park on the Cogswell Interchange that goes from the Halifax Common to the Halifax Harbour. Place the Farm on the Centennial Pool parking lot with a new outdoor pool nearby.
  3. South- Have the city and province honour their 1986 commitment that the former School for the Blind site would a landscaped Park within a Park and public pathway. (see image)

HRM is too careless with our Common. Short term profit is no match for the long-term pay-back of expanding our city’s green space and improving our health, habitat and especially our ability to weather climate change.

So far HRM has not included either the Health Authority, Dalhousie or private lands on the Common in the public consultation process for the Common’s Masterplan. Again this ignores the 1994 Halifax Common Plan. It also pretends that HRM cannot assume its normal government role to regulate planning throughout the entire Common. Being hands-off does not protect the Common but it certainly serves the purposes of developers be they private or institutional.

Its time to cultivate a green attitude. Faced with a dwindling Halifax Common its pretty clear that if we want a Common we better be prepared to defend the Common. Giving away the Common is a bad HRM habit. Every bit counts. So speak up and ask for more not less!

FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/374118636330757/everyone who appreciates the farm to help envision the farm’s future at a public engagement session on April 11.