Tag Archives: Willow Tree

Cancel the Proposed WSP 23-storey high-rise

The Westwood high-rise tower at 2032-2050 Robie Street has already been turned down by HRM Mayor and Council. Height for this location was to be restricted to 6-storeys. The Development Agreement is discretionary-Mayor and Council should cancel the project.

Dear HRM Planners, Mayor and Council
Re: Cancel the Proposed WSP high-rise- Case 22927

The proposed Westwood high-rise tower at 2032-2050 Robie Street has already been turned down by HRM Mayor and Council. Height for this location was to be restricted to 6-storeys. Council’s decision to allow a Development Agreement is discretionary and should be cancelled. It is effectively raising the dead. This Development Agreement not only denies the earlier council decision and staff recommendations to limit the height to 6 storeys, it makes a mockery of public participation by voiding the historic and more recent input of citizens. 

Values reflected by statements such as Councillor Smith’s June 2019 motion “In recognition of the substantial investment made in the preparation of a planning applications for the site located at 2032- 2050 Robie Street, Halifax” beg the question whose interest are Mayor, Council and staff representing?  The owner’s investment of money in thinking about what to do with their land is not a legitimate basis for approving a project.

Are residents of the area being given recognition for their substantial investment in their homes, livelihoods, neighbourhoods, community services and time to participate in HRM planning consultations and processes?

Regulations and policies put in place under the Regional Plan through the efforts of Councillor Nick Meagher in the early 1990s were intended and did restrict high-rise developments so as to protect the Halifax Common and the Quinpool Road Business district. These had the full support of the area residents and merchants. This development is not necessary and will cause harm.

Necessity- The Willow Tree Group found that mid-rise (five-storey) development along Quinpool Road would allow for 2,500–2,800 new bachelor, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom residential units. Distributed density with multiple developers is a form of gentle/hidden density and in-fill that is now the preferred form for getting densification done right as determined in a 2020 report by Ryerson University’s City Building Institute—”Density Done Right”—distributed density with mid-rise, townhouses and has multiple advantages over high-rises which in fact contribute to “tall and sprawl”. (See attachment.)

Harm-Objections from staff and council against the original proposal included: property is located mid-block; backs on the existing low-density buildings on Parker Street; frontage only on a single street; shallow property depth; shadows on the adjacent Commons to the east; contextual fit of the proposed building heights; massing of the buildings; setbacks; spacing between towers; density.

To these could be added: parking, traffic, congestion, pedestrian safety and air pollution associated with vehicular emissions; neighbourhood stability; wind and shade; noise and privacy; property values and housing affordability; concentration of rental market to the exclusion of smaller developers; greenhouse gas emissions associated with demolition, construction and operation; over concentration of development in a single area rather than distributed; disrespect for meaningful public participation and public process; mismatch between populations density and provision of services (water, waste water etc)

Cumulative Impact- These aforementioned problems are not all single issues about the one development but many should be considered cumulatively along with the two other towers on this block, the Atlantica Hotel and Dexel building south of Quinpool, the unknown QEII Redevelopment and the unrevealed St Pat’s High School site.

That is how do these all work together? What is the desired density? What is the cumulative effect of shadow and wind on the Halifax Common, Cogswell Park and the neighbourhood? What is the cumulative impact of the vehicles associated with all of these developments within close proximity of one Halifax’s busiest intersections and hospital emergency entrance and exit? What is the impact on affordable housing in the area-especially Parker Street where 12-14 buildings seem to be now zoned as a future service lane? Where is the 3-D model?

Citizen Opposition- We remind you that at the public hearing for APL’s 20-storeys there were ~1039 submissions in opposition and dozens of members of the public who spoke against that development. And just prior to the public hearing an independent Corporate Research Associate poll indicated that the majority of HRM residents (52%) supported 16-storeys or less with only 1/10 of those surveyed supporting the 25-storey option. Despite this opposition Mayor and Council approved a 25-storey building. Adding this 23-storey Westwood proposal would form a wall of high-rises, standing between the unwanted 25-storey building and next to the Welsford high-rise.

Although urban green space plays a huge role in mitigating the effect of climate change and nature improves mental and physical well-being HRM’s Centre Plan is not creating any new public green space for the Peninsula. It should therefore not consider permitting further degradation of either the Halifax Common or Cogswell Park with more shade, wind, noise, blocked views, traffic, pollution, for a project that does not add anything to the public realm but only takes full advantage of over-taxing the public’s socially provided greenspaces.

Please do not approve this proposal. Please take this as an opportunity to re-think Centre Plan policy for this site.

Thank you,

Peggy Cameron
Co-chair, Friends of Halifax Common

Density Done Right—A 2020 report by Ryerson University’s City Building Institute finds … “distributed density with mid-rise, townhouses and has multiple advantages over high-rises which in fact contribute to “tall and sprawl”. https://archive.citybuildinginstitute.ca/portfolio/density-done-right/

 

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

Rick Howe Interview – Council Caves on Willow Tree Tower

HRM Council approved 25 storeys at Quinpool /Robie.

In June HRM Council ignored public opinion and staff advice to vote 10 to 6 in favour of George Armoyen’s 25-storey tower at Robie and Quinpool. The building will degrade the neighbourhood and the Halifax Common. And the decision assures an elite class of developers that democratically derived rules don’t matter to Council. Hear a quick review…

FHC’s Presentation to Council at Willow Tree Public Hearing

Present rules restrict Armco’s 11-storey building at Robie and Quinpool to its present size to protect the Halifax Common and its neighbourhood.

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?

Thank you,

Peggy Cameron
Co-chair, Friends of Halifax Common

Willow Tree Tower Ignores Planning Process and Common Interest

May 22, 2018

Dear Mayor and Council,
Re case 18966- 25-storey Armco Project

As members of the Friends of Halifax Common we write to ask that you not proceed with further steps towards approving a 25-storey ARMCO building at the corner of Quinpool and Robie.

We remind you that at the January 16th public hearing was for 20-storeys. At that time there were ~1039 submissions against the 20-storey project and dozens of members of the public who spoke against the development at that meeting and previous meetings. Just prior to the public hearing an independent Corporate Research Associate poll indicated that the majority of HRM residents (52%) supported 16-storeys or less with 1/10 of those surveyed supporting the 25-storey option.

We ask that you respect your own on-going planning processes; for the Centre Plan; and for the Masterplan for the Halifax Common. These processes ensure that an integrated plan is developed with a balance of benefits.

We remind you that a few affordable housing units is not a sufficient trade for how much the public is being asked to give up for this project. The residents of the adjacent Parker Street will have their affordable housing units sadly degraded if this project proceeds. The Halifax Common will be affected by winds that degrade the experience of recreational users of the fields. There will be a permanent afternoon shadow during winter skates on the Oval.

Please seek a balance of benefits and turn down this 25-storey option.

Your truly,
Friends of Halifax Common

 

CBC’s Bob Murphy Interviews Councillor Outhit, Joachim Stroink & Peggy Cameron

Please listen to the interview and then let CBC know what you think:
1-888-686-6246 or mainhfx@cbc.ca

HRM Councillor Shawn Cleary has crafted a deal for a new public hearing for a 25-storey proposal for George Armoyen at Robie and Quinpool instead of the 20-storey proposal presented to the public on January 16. Its more bad dealing- 25-storeys may get 10 affordable housing units for 15-years but the Centre Plan would have required 36 affordable housing units for 15-years.

And the public interest and opposition continue to be ignored. A recent opinion poll conducted for the Willow Tree Group by Corporate Research Associates found 52% support 16-storeys or less (26% support 16-storeys; 22% support the current building height of 10-storeys). And only 15% want 20-storeys and 10% want 25-storeys.

Existing regulations to protect the 2 & 3-storey neighbourhood’s affordable housing and Halifax Common by limiting the size, height, mass, density etc. are being ignored. The developer has misused HRM’s bogus on-line survey but HRM staff has not corrected this. Recent public submissions totaled 1038 against and 333 for, but the Clerk’s office counted 851 cards signed by opponents as 1. The common public participate but who is looking out for the common good?