We all know that healthcare and the trees need to co-exist. When FHC heard that Premier Houston’s provincial government wanted Mayor Savage and HRM’s permission to cut 37 trees on Robie, Bell Road and Summer for the QEII hospital expansion, we knew there was a better option — take the building back from the edge so the tree roots were safe. Our collective effort has reduced the planned number of cuts to 20. But HRM has issued these 20 permits. We must keep up the pressure. Governments and builders can do better. Action is Urgent
Help Protect Our Trees – Take Action 1. Sign Our Petition to Premier Houston & Mayor Savage: https://chng.it/qFyKkmqXbT
Like, Share, Send!
2. Email Politicians: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Include HRM’s Manager of Urban Forestry, Crispen Wood email@example.com
Ask him to add your comments to his Urban Forest Masterplan Update.
Tell them to:
Protect the 20 remaining trees, set the building back from the sidewalk
Follow good urban planning principles; engage in meaningful public consultation
Be collaborative. Work together. Keep a healthy environment for a healthy population and climate.
Cutting down mature, historic trees along Halifax streets is not acceptable. We are living with the effect of climate change – Fiona, floods, fires. Nova Scotians want faster better healthcare but it isn’t a case of hospitals or trees; better planning can give us both. Set the building back to protect the trees. They can never be replaced Political leadership to protect the trees and Halifax Common are what we need. Silence, shirking responsibility, blame and finger-pointing is unacceptable.
Here’s our tree action history to date:
November 2023 – FHC rallied against the governments’ plan to cut 37 trees. About 35 – 40 people including Gorsebrook and Citadel students joined our efforts.
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.
June 23 marked the 255th anniversary of the Halifax Common, the 1763 Crown Grant by King George III for 235 acres of land and five acres of roads given “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax as Common forever.”
Maura Marche uses a hula hoop on the Halifax Common earlier this month. The lands were given in perpetuity to the people of Halifax, but their overall size has been shrinking. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)
Clamoured for by the poor and landless, the grant is bound by North Park Street, Ahern Avenue, Bell Road, South Park, Robie and Cunard streets. But true to history, Halifax’s ruling class has steadily colonized the Common south to north so now only roughly 20 per cent is public open space.
Recently, HRM began a public consultation process for a Halifax Common master plan. Unfortunately, this offers an uncertain prospect for remedying the enclosure of our shared land. Continue reading →
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 supports the principles of the Centre Plan but believe it needs a better balance of proper densification and environmental care. Below are recent suggestions and concerns that we submitted. There are four distinct themes that build on previous asks such as growth scenarios that include commuter rail and 3-D models of what the Centre Plan will permit.
Themes: • Protecting Halifax’s existing character – urban form, streetscapes & neighbourhoods – best economic, environmental, social and cultural advantage;
• Protecting the Halifax Common and its neighbourhoods – increase green space, parks, playgrounds & green walking/biking networks;
• Balancing densitybetween Halifax & Dartmouth and distributing densityon the Peninsula;
• Climate Change – set targets for GHG reductions, Stop needless demolitions, Protect Solar Access.
1. Protect Halifax’s existing character and urban form:
There is a serious need within the Centre Plan for better protection of the existing urban form, neighbourhoods and character of the city. That is what attracts tourists, residents and students (30,000+) to the city. The Centre Plan’s increase in height and massing limits to allow greater densities will contribute to rapid transformation and homogenization, and inflated land value and property tax. Under the Centre Plan hundreds of low-rise, mixed-use Victorian and Georgian character buildings with moderate-rent apartments and commercial spaces will be able to be demolished for development. Replacing the streetscapes designated as corridors etc. with 6-storey buildings and fewer trees will be a drastic change for the look, living and walkability of Halifax.
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.
The Halifax Common grant in 1763 was for 235 acres ” to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.” This entire area is to be considered for planning purposes as per the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.
Dear HRM Mayor and Council
Re: Request to postpone decision on Private-for-profit stadium on Halifax Common’s Wanderers’ Grounds until completion of on-going Halifax Common Master Plan Consultation.
Presently HRM is in the midst of a public consultations for the Halifax Common’s Master-plan, a process which began in the December 2017. The consultant team, Upland Studios, CoLab and HTFC, are undertaking a range of opportunities for public feedback to help inform the creation of the Halifax Common Plan as per the attached map. In fact, this Wednesday, April 25th, the 3rd of five public consultations will be held.
At present less than 20% of the 235-acre Halifax Common remains as public open space. The draft Centre Plan intends to add up to 35,000 citizens to the Peninsula but does not plan for additional public green space or parks. We need to keep this important civic space available for public use. Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) therefore requests that the decision to sign a contract for a private pre-fab pop-up stadium on the Wanderers’ Grounds be deferred until the Masterplan is finished. We stress that the Masterplan is for the entire Halifax Common as per the direction of the 1994 Plan (see attached map). Continue reading →
The Halifax Common grant in 1763 was for 235 acres ” to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.” Under the 1994 Halifax Common Plan the entire area is to be considered for planning purposes.
At the invitation of the Halifax Master-plan Consultants’ Team FHC reviewed and highlighted Ten Items from the 1994 Halifax Common Plan of Current Significance in creating a New Halifax Master Plan…
1. Recognition that the need for a Plan for the Halifax Common was and is brought about “…partly from concern about the increasing number of changes and demands for use and the need for a plan and additional protection for the Halifax Common.”
2. That the 235 acres of the Halifax Common, originally granted to the people of Halifax by royal decree in 1763 and specifically identified in 1859, must be considered as an entity with varying areas and fully addressed with the new Master Plan, otherwise either the boundary of the Halifax Common should be redrawn or the current planning effort re-named. Continue reading →
Two recent articles in Halifax Magazine about the Halifax Common are nicely informative with beautiful photos.“For the Common Good“ by Katie Ingram describes FHC’s efforts to have the City honour its 1994 promise to keep the Common’s public open space and recapture its lost open space. This is contrasted with HRM staff’s efforts to help developers such as George Armoyen’s APL with his 20-25 storey building at the Willow Tree and HRM’s council’s support for Derek Martin’s Atlantic Sports & Entertainment’s private 6-7,000 seat pop-up-stadium on the Wanderers’ Grounds. (HRM’s information about shadows is untrue)
“A Tale of Two Commons“ by Heather White compares the Halifax Common with the Boston Common but discovers a history of very different governance, protection, uses and give-aways. Enjoy the read(s)! And thank you to Katie, Heather and Halifax Magazine.
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:
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.
The Cogwell Interchange near the Centennial Pool (and a new outdoor pool nearby) as plan to extend a green network to the Halifax Harbour
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.
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.
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!
Please listen to the interview and then let CBC know what you think:
1-888-686-6246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
Disruption to Halifax’s built environment proposed under the Centre Plan is of a scale equal to or greater than that of Cogswell and Africville together. Please attend the open houses (see schedule below) to inform yourself about the Centre Plan and provide feedback.
The Centre Plan is ignoring the on-going Halifax Common Master Plan Consultations
The draft Centre Plan threatens public enjoyment of the Halifax Common. The colours indicate increases to permitted height. This will lead to short or long-term demolitions of existing building and replacement with taller ones on and next to the Halifax Common.
and 1994 Halifax Common Plan. Despite substantial evidence that high-rises are not the way to add density and that they kill liveability HRM continues to plan for high-rises at “Centres” next to (Robie & Quinpool ) or on (Southwest Spring Garden Road) the Halifax Common. And the plan increases heights for most of the perimeter of the Common for “Corridors” (traffic sewers) along Robie, Chebucto to Cunard, and along South Street.
Although urban green space plays a huge role in mitigating the effect of climate change and nature improves mental and physical well-being HRM is not creating any new public green space for the peninsula just more shade and wind that will degrade what we have. Without knowing what the Plan will permit Capital Health or Dalhousie to do on the Halifax Common the Centre Plan is already drafting for continued incursions and enclosure of the Common. Especially troubling is the plan incentivizes short term or eventual demolition of hundreds of buildings and will result in on-going clashes with near-by properties.
A sensible solution to densifying the Centre Plan Area, would be to intensify land use development in areas where the character of the city would be the least affected. Examples include the 16 acre Cogswell Exchange, the large parcels of land designated as Future Growth Nodes (shopping malls and Shannon Park) or under-utilized commercial lots, vacant lots and automotive dealerships.
Instead the Centre Plan will disrupt many older, established neighbourhoods by increasing height limits along corridors (4-6 storeys), higher residential areas (4-6 storeys) and targeted growth areas (20-storeys). There is no consideration for the social, cultural, environmental, economic advantage of protecting Halifax’s built environment. Nor for protecting present or future opportunities for small-scale local businesses, women-owned businesses, affordability and diversity.
For details please see the interactive map. Note, typical story height is 3.9 meters for offices, 3.1 meters for hotels or residences and 3.5 meters for mixed- use.
Open house meetings March 19-April 5: Mon, March 19, 6:30 – 8:30 pm: St. Joseph A. McKay Elementary School
Thurs March 22, 6-8 pm, NSCC Ivany (Waterfront) Campus
Mon, March 26, 1-3 pm and 6 – 8 pm Dalhousie SUB
Wed, March 28, 1-3 pm and 6 – 8 pm Mic Mac Aquatic Club
Tues April 3 6 – 8pm Halifax Forum
Thurs April 5 1 – 3 and 6 – 8 pm Dartmouth North Community Centre
Listen to Sheldon’s MacLeod’s interview with FHC about misuse of HRM’s invalid survey to push for 25-storeys.
On a matter of conduct FHC calls for a new HRM report on the APL proposal before another public hearing to correct inaccuracies, biases, omissions & false statements – For now the process is meaningless.
At January 16th’s public hearing on APL’s proposed 20-storey highrise, Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Assn. used HRM’s invalid on-line survey to claim that the public support 25 storeys and decided to push for 5 more storeys. That same invalid survey was used in HRM’s staff 2017 report report to council about proposed Willow Tree highrises as the top reason to recommend Armoyen’s proposed Willow Tree project even though HRM withdrew the 2014 survey because of acknowledged biases and misinformation. “The online survey generally indicated support for increased heights for both properties.” Who can you trust?
For more details see FHC’s March 4th Media Release: FOIPOP Recipient Uses Invalid HRM On-line Survey to Promote Height at Willow Tree Site Continue reading →
FHC wonders why Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association enthusiastically endorsed APL’s proposed 25-storey building at Robie & Quinpool at the public hearing meant to consider 20-storeys.
January 16’s public hearing for a 20-storey proposal became one on 25-storeys after a few affordable housing units were promised. HRM has no authority under its Charter to enforce affordable housing requirements and has no definition of affordability.
Residents oppose this block-buster project and have engaged with the Centre Plan and Halifax Common Master Plan processes in hopes of developing a vision for the district that respects existing neighbourhoods & the Halifax Common. The Business Association has sent a strong message that working with the city planners and residents is not their priority. Listen to this Sheldon MacLeod interview to learn more.