Of Candidates for District 10 only Kathryn Morse responded. Candidates Andrew Curran, Mohammad Ehsan, Renee Field, Sherry Hassanali, Christopher Hurry, Debbie MacKinnon and Kyle Morton did not respond. See Kathyrn’s response below-other than not having solutions to the parking garage she seems like she is open, positive and thoughtful!
1.There has been gradual but constant loss of public-use open space from the Halifax Common’s 245 acres. In the HRM Charter there is a legislated protection for preserving the integrity of the Dartmouth Common. Would you commit to establishing a similar law to protect the integrity of the Halifax Common? Yes
2. Proposals for 4 high rise towers on the Halifax Common in the Carlton, College, Robie, Spring Garden Road area are proceeding through the HRM Development Agreement process. If approved these will negatively impact public enjoyment of remaining open green space on the south Halifax Common i.e. Camp Hill Cemetery, Public Gardens or Dalhousie Seton Campus, by blocking sunlight/views, creating wind and adding hundreds of cars. Would you work to have HRM actively oppose these developments? No, I don’t like the height and density of this development as currently proposed. However Halifax needs more housing and I’m not opposed to having development in this area as long as it’s designed better and lower. In addition, I support council requiring or incentivizing new developments to provide community benefits such as attractive streetscapes, affordable housing units, shared work spaces, and ground level or rooftop green space.
3. The Halifax Common remains a major reserve of green space for the Halifax Peninsula. There is a shortage of green space in HRM (needed in addition to sports and recreation facilities). Would you favour an expanded and comprehensive green space policy for HRM, especially on the Halifax Peninsula, that will increase public open space and connectivity between existing green space? (Yes or No) Yes, Definitely! Connecting green spaces could help protect the commons as well as enhance active transportation plans because it would be safer for cyclists and pedestrians to use green space rather than roads. If the green space plan includes planting a denser urban tree cover with more native trees it could address climate and biodiversity concerns while making the peninsula more attractive and liveable.
4. One recent change in a part of the Halifax Common is use of the Wanderer’s Grounds. Prior to its essential privatization by a professional soccer team, the Wanderer’s Grounds was fully booked by amateur players. Now zero amateur teams have regular access. Have you any policies you’d pursue for the Wanderer’s Grounds? Please describe briefly. If elected I would be in favour of a shared use policy and agreement to allow amateur teams (including students) access to the Wanderers Grounds.
5. Plans for the additions to the QEII hospital complex include the building of two parking garages at the Natural History Museum and former CBC TV site. While the Province is taking the lead, HRM is co-operating. Under s.213 of the HTM Charter the Province pledges to “consider the planning documents of the Municipality” before carrying out any development. Would you work to have HRM actively oppose the Province’s plans for these parking garages? Maybe, As much as I dislike the idea of more parking on the commons I can’t agree to fight the province on this one because patients, visitors and staff will need parking close to the hospital for the hospital to function properly. The former CBC site is preferable for a multi level-parking garage since it’s an awkward corner without many alternative uses. If elected I would work towards better design solutions for this project. For example the city should require the parking garage design to have green features, such as landscaped walls and a green roof. The roof could serve as a public park and viewing area, like this one: https://www.fastcompany.com/3033472/put-a-park-on-it-says-copenhagen-to-ugly-parking-garages
6. The previous City of Halifax adopted a 1994 Master Plan for the Common. HRM is now considering a new Master Plan. What are your views on the pros and cons of the 1994 Master Plan and what would you propose for the new Halifax Common Master Plan? Please elaborate.
The strength of the 1994 Master Plan was the community and stakeholder involvement in the plan, and the clear and simple principles of 1) no decrease in the open space in the Halifax Common 2) no decrease in the amount of land owned by HRM on the common 3) the goal of increasing land under city ownership and recovering lands previously part of the common.
The new master plan should hold to these principles. I would also like to see increased protection for the Halifax North Common and feel it should be conserved as a significant cultural and historical landscape due to its proximity to the Citadel and the many functions it has served over the past 300 years. Securing this designation and supporting legislation could take several years, so in the meantime, the commons should have well-designed interpretive panels installed to highlight its history and build public support for greater protection measures.
I feel access to urban commons, parks and green space is vital for the health and well-being of the public. It’s especially important as the city grows and gets denser that everyone has equitable access to nature and the outdoors. The Halifax Commons can be part of building a healthier and fairer city, as well as a climate resilient city—because with an increased tree canopy, it could serve as an important cooling park for everyone in the downtown in summer.