Category Archives: OPINION

Friends of the Halifax Common send letters to the media and to public officials regarding protection of and development of the Halifax Common.

Amend the Centre Plan, Protect Halifax Trees! Public Hearing, May 21

Halifax planning is killing urban trees. Cutting trees for the QEII hospital is part of a bigger problem. The Centre Plan reduced public open space requirements and increased lot coverage for development threatening trees & green space. And its Robie Street Transportation Corridor will cut ~ 80 trees to widen the street. See: But here’s how we can change this !

Robie Street Transportation Corridor will cut ~ 80 trees to widen the street and demolish dozens of buildings. Take a detailed look here:

Newly proposed changes to the Centre Plan for the Federal Government’s Accelerator Fund will cause even more cutting on private land and greater harm / killing of public trees along city streets as development and demolitions intensifies. But these changes require public input!

Good News – May 21 Public Hearing: You have a rare and important opportunity to write or speak and ask for changes to proposed amendments to the Centre Plan for the Federal Government’s Accelerator Fund.
Have Your Say – Email or Speak to HRM Council to ask that they:
1. Amend the Centre Plan to remove the Robie Street Transportation Corridor. 
2. Amend the Centre Plan to protect the Urban Forest, greenspace and existing housing. There are better options.
Send comments by 10am Tuesday via email to
Register to speak by email to or call 902 490 4210 
Details here:
3. Sign the petition – Demand a Better Plan to Address Halifax’s Housing Crisis!

  • Other Information:
    The Federal Government’s Accelerator is for small-scale, missing middle, gentle density. HRM’s rush to zoning changes is a market based housing solution not an affordable housing solution. It leaves existing affordable housing unprotected and climate action unsupported.
  • HRM staff stated (April 24th) that 15,179 housing units were under permit and 250,000 units could be developed as of right. The mayor commented that constraints against building are interest rates and labour and materials. Changing zoning can’t change that.
  • Density is necessary but it needn’t be destructive. HRM has ~12,000 vacant lots; acres of under-utilized surface parking lots, car dealerships etc.; and publicly owned Cogswell and Shannon Park. Prioritize these areas first.
  • The Robie Street Transportation Corridor threatens community housing and services especially for First Nations, Housing Co-ops, Shelters. Widening Robie Street is not a transportation solution and it harms public safety/health is harmed (VOCs, GHGs, toxic emissions, pedestrian accidents, noise).  
  • Green space and trees are infrastructure! They play a vital role in storm water management, air clearing, temperature regulation, climate mitigation, traffic calming and best of all beauty!
  • Using public money to cut trees, demolish buildings and turn Robie into a cross town connector is not a transportation solution! Bidirectional overhead signals to reallocate existing road space as used on the MacDonald Bridge or Chebucto Road are cheap, fast and work!

April 15 – FHC Follow Up Letter to Parks Canada re Garrison Ground

Thanks very much to Parks Canada for the meeting about the provincial government request for parking on the Garrison Ground. Despite sufficient lead time the QEII hospital redevelopment team is intent on ignoring the health, social, cultural, economic value of protecting and expanding green space. It’s time to pursue available, proven better options for staff and patient transportation. This must not include paving the Halifax Citadel National Park’s Garrison Grounds for parking.
Details here: 2024 FHC April letter to Parks Canada copy.pages

NS Health’s proposed parking lot paving project on the Garrison Ground at Parks Canada’s Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

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Trees at Willow Tree intersection - soon to be cut down

Shame – Premier Houston & Mayor Savage Ignore ~3,400 Citizens & CUT 20 Robie & Bell Road Trees!

When FHC heard Premier Houston’s provincial government wanted Mayor Savage and HRM’s permission to cut 37 trees on Robie, Bell Road & 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. Together our collective effort reduced the number of cuts to ~20. But HRM issued permits and cut ~20 trees despite opposition from ~3,400 citizens. In a climate crisis and knowing the importance of trees to our city and personal health, governments & builders must do better. Trees and Healthcare need to co-exist. Shame.
Up next? Premier Houston’s Health & Wellness wants Parks Canada to pave green space on the Halifax Citadel National Park’s Garrison Grounds for hospital parking.  Why is the Premier and his Minister of of Health determined to wreck Halifax’s public realm for the QEII hospital expansion? Shame.

Trees at Willow Tree intersection - soon to be cut down

Photo: Several of the 20 trees along Robie St. & Bell Rd. that  Premier Houston and Mayor Savage allowed to be cut down to expand the QEII Hospital complex.

See below for Our Actions to Help Protect Our Trees!

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Write to Parks Canada “Don’t Pave National Park Green Space for Parking”

(Ki’jupuk) Nova Scotia Health and Parks Canada intend to pave green space on the Garrison Grounds for healthcare parking. This public green space on the Citadel National Park is historically used for gathering, playing, music, and all forms of enjoyment.

Please read details in the CBC article below, then send your comments/concerns/no ways!! to the following by April 24th.

Parks Canada:
Minister of Environment:
Federal MP:

Nova Scotia Health’s proposed paving over grass for a parking lot on the Garrison Grounds at Parks Canada’s Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

“A new lot with 140 stalls could ease the upcoming loss of a nearby parkade”, says the provincial Crown corporation. The area marked in yellow is currently a grassy space at the base of Halifax’s Citadel Hill. Build Nova Scotia, a provincial Crown corporation, wants it to be paved to create 140 additional parking stalls for health-care workers who will be losing a parkade on Robie Street later this year. (Submitted by Parks Canada)

NS Health’s proposed parking lot paving project on the Garrison Grounds at Parks Canada’s Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

A new parking lot at the base of Citadel Hill is on the table as the Province prepares to demolish a nearby parkade for a major hospital redevelopment project.

Crown corporation Build Nova Scotia wants to put 140 new parking spots on the Garrison Grounds at the southwest corner of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

The open lot would partly make up for the loss of the Robie Street parkade at the Halifax Infirmary. That parking structure, which has over 600 spaces, is marked for demolition to make way for the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

Dr. Alex Mitchell, vice-president of clinical infrastructure at Nova Scotia Health and Build Nova Scotia, said the parkade will come down this year. “The date of that will be announced with plenty of time for people to prepare,” Mitchell told reporters at a ground-breaking event Wednesday for the hospital redevelopment project.

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The yellow area shows the proposed parking lot at the base of Citadel Hill. (Submitted by Parks Canada)

“But in order to facilitate the ongoing excavation and construction of the new building, it will have to come down [by the] summer [or] fall of this year,” Mitchell said.

David Benoit, Build Nova Scotia President and CEO, said health-care workers have made it clear they need parking close to work. “We looked at a number of different solutions,” said Benoit. “The one that makes the most sense, the one that we think will be able to be delivered in the time that we expect the Robie Street parkade to come down, is the Garrison Grounds,” Benoit told reporters at Province House on Wednesday.

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David Benoit is President and CEO of Build Nova Scotia. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

The lot would be open to the public, but Nova Scotia Health said in an email that a proportion of the spaces would be protected for use by the health authority on a first–come, first-served basis.

Staff would pay a rate on par with what they pay at other health authority parkades.

Proposal open for public comment

Citadel Hill is federal property managed by Parks Canada, which is assessing the province’s proposal.

The proposal is open for public comment until April 24.

Benoit said if the proposal is turned down, Build Nova Scotia will revisit other options, but he declined to say what those are.

The province has previously said it’s looked at offsite parking options that might require a shuttle.

[missing image]

Nova Scotia wants to pave the green space between two existing parking lots at the base of Citadel Hill to create 140 new stalls. (Daniel Jardine/CBC)

It’s not clear what the project would cost the province, but the expense would fall under the QEII hospital redevelopment project, which is expected to cost billions of dollars. The work would be done by Plenary PCL Health, which has been hired to oversee the entire hospital project.

Nova Scotia Health said Parks Canada would receive revenue from the expanded lot.

‘Completely counter’ to climate action

Peggy Cameron, from the non-profit Friends of Halifax Common, said she’s discouraged by the parking lot proposal.

“Paving any green space at this time to increase parking is completely counter to what any level of government ought to be doing if they’re really seriously understanding the climate crisis, or if they’re seriously planning for a city that has proper public transportation,” she said in an interview.

She encouraged the public to submit feedback to Parks Canada while the opportunity is available.

Taryn Grant · CBC News · Posted: Mar 28, 2024

(April 7) FHC to Minister Guilbeault – Do Not Pave Halifax Citadel’s Garrison Ground for Parking

“It is completely unacceptable that you as Minister of Environment and Climate Change, or a department of your government would contemplate such a thing as paving green space for expanding parking given its health, social, cultural, historic, environmental importance and negative impact on these. Or support the ongoing destruction of our environment. Do not permit the paving of the Garrison Ground. Please work to ensure that this plan does not proceed.” Details:
2024 FHC letter Guilbeault, Paving Garrrison Ground copy.pages

NS Health’s proposed parking lot paving project on the Garrison Ground at Parks Canada’s Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

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Todd Veinotte Asks FHC About Paving the Garrison Ground for Healthcare Parking

(Ki’jupuk) Todd Veinotte & Peggy Cameron discuss the Nova Scotia’s Department of Health pitch to Parks Canada to pave more green space on the Halifax Citadel’s Garrison Grounds for healthcare parking. Already ~30% of the Common is parking/parkades, mostly hospital. Have a listen, learn more about better options. Then please write to Parks Canada to say “no way!” April 24th deadline: 
To help you, please see the list of concerns below Todd’s pic.
FHC has been working for better transportations options since 2007. (See Tag)

Below are some concerns to mention in your email

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HRM Adopts Piecemeal Halifax Common Master Plan – No Legal Protection

The Halifax Common Master Plan Review and Implementation Plan was adopted by HRM Council on January 23, 2024. In February 2022 HRM Council directed staff to undertake further public consultation and review as the masterplan process begun in 2017. The public had not seen the plan since pre Covid and had little awareness of it. HRM staff chose to not host any public information or consultation sessions but sought feed back via a Shape Your City on-line survey for 9 months.
The presentation to HRM Council by HRM staff Carol Kodiak Roberts begins at 4:37. Council comments begin with Waye Mason at 4:48. Most of the discussion is around the stadium. HRM Staff are awkward in their answers. Councillor Mancini is excited. Councillor Patty Cuttell gives the best insight to “All winners no losers,” (5:06) Continue reading

HRM Council Approves Carbon Bombs for Carlton Block

On January 23 HRM Council voted to give the Dexel / Lawen development even more benefit but still without any public benefit in exchange. For almost a decade HRM Council and staff ignored public concerns about the Lawen and the Rouvalis families’ two projects and refused requests that the four towers be considered together. Citizens support the need for development and density but want better options. Now the combined impact on the existing/future affordability, climate, traffic, community, heritage, wind, shadow, noise etc. will only be understood in real time. HRM made no attempt to balance the private, for-profit interests of the developer with societal needs.  The HRM public hearing recording begins at 8:08 & the citizen speakers at 8:34 -Its worth the watch.  See details below the video.

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FHC Writes to Ms. Maggie MacDonald, HRM Executive Director Parks & Recreation

FHC sent a letter to HRM’s Executive Director of Parks & Recreation Ms Maggie MacDonald to with information for her use in writing a staff report for the HRM Standing Committee on Community Planning and Economic Development about the Wanderers Grounds, particularly in the context of the proposal Mr. Derek Martin made for a long-term lease of a publicly funded stadium.

As the matter of the public funding stadiums is as yet untested in Halifax we recommend the Journal of Economic Surveys’ February 2022 article, The Impact of Professional Sports Franchises and Venues on Local Economies: A Comprehensive Survey. This recent analysis of 130 studies on the economic impact of publicly financed sports venue…

“…confirms the decades-old consensus of very limited economic impacts of professional sports teams and stadiums. Even with added non-pecuniary social benefits from quality-of-life externalities and civic pride, welfare improvements from hosting teams tend to fall well short of covering public outlays. Thus, the large subsidies commonly devoted to constructing professional sports venues are not justified as worthwhile public investments.”

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Todd Veinotte & FHC’s Howard Epstein re HRM’s Proposed $40m Stadium Build

Listen to Todd Veinotte’s interview with Howard Epstein about SEA/Derek Martin’s pitch for HRM to spend $40 million on a permanent stadium for his private use and profit for thirty years. 

Watch Derek Martin/SEA pitch to HRM Community Planning and Economic Development standing committee along with presentations by Howard Epstein starts at 13:03, David Bentley and Vince Calderhead here:

The Wanderers Grounds was fully used by amateur players prior ot HRM’s deal for a ‘temporary pop-up stadium’ – HRM’s 2017 staff report stated that if it was successful was to go elsewhere, no park space would be lost.

FHC to HRM Community Planning & Economic Develoment Standing Committee

The Wanderers Grounds was fully used by amateur players like this QEHS football team (2015) before HRM paid hundreds of thousands for field upgrades, lights and on-going utility/maintenance for a professional private for-profit soccer team takeover.

Dear HRM CPED Committee Members:
Re- Wanderers Grounds – FHC Comments
FHC’s FOIPOP information received Sept 11and attached below shows that the Wanderers Grounds was used almost exclusively by Derek Martin/SEA activities with virtually nothing for amateur players. This is similar to two previous FOIPOPs. Martin/SEA private-for-profit stadium is consistently shutting out amateur players year after year.
ARG-23.24-00118 – Response Letter 00118 – Responsive Record (In Full)

HRM’s 2017 staff report wrote: Continue reading

Todd Veinotte- Interview re Ron Pink’s letter to HRM on Privatization of Wanderers Grounds

In 2018 just before the start of public consultation for the Halifax Common Master Plan HRM signed a contract with a private, professional, for-profit soccer club for a temporary “pop-up” stadium on the Wanderers Grounds.  According to the 2017 HRM staff report, prior to this agreement amateur players of all ages and gender fully used the field for football, touch football, rugby, lacrosse, frisbee and soccer— an estimated 325 hours. (Even more had the field been maintained.) The report also states that if the club was successful they would have to move elsewhere-no park space would be lost. Public tax dollars paid for initial ~$1million dollars in field improvements, and since then for on-going maintenance and utilities. There has been little to no public access. And no public consultation. With thousands more residents moving to the Peninsula we need public open green space more than ever.

The Wanderers Grounds was fully used by amateur players like this QEHS football team (2015) before HRM paid hundreds of thousands for field upgrades, lights, scoreboard and on-going utility/maintenance for a professional private for-profit soccer team takeover of the public-land.

Renovated Robie St House Demolished & What about those trees?


Historic, newly renovated four-unit building at 2110 Robie Street- demolished.

Mid-town Halifax housing takes another hit this morning as an “Investor” knocks down 2110 Robie to save on maintenance and taxes and to profit from poor planning.
At least four units are destroyed in a recently renovated, pristine and irreplaceable building next to the North Common. (see pictures below) This is one of 450 demolition permits HRM has issued since January 2020.
Please sign the petition to Petition to Stop Demolitions –
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FHC to Mayor/Premier: Stop Plan to Cut Mature Historic Trees on Common

re: QEII Hospital Build and cutting down Halifax Common Trees 

FHC has just learned that the province intends to cut down as many as 40 mature historic trees on the Halifax Common as part of the QEII hospital build.

This 2020 aerial view shows a massive expansion of the Halifax Infirmary (The 8-storey parking garage recently built on NS Museum property on Summer St. has oddly been omitted.) Like the recent construction of a parking garage on the Common, tree cutting should not play a part in the Common future. Public money, public land— where’s the public consultation?

To learn more about the Friends of Halifax Common position read our July 14/23 letter to Premier Houston and Mayor Savage: 2023 FHC Mayor, Premier re: Tree Cutting

If you concur please send your message to &

Tell them to:

    • Protect the trees on the Halifax Common and stop plans to cut them.
    • Follow good urban planning principles and engage in meaningful public consultation.
    • Be collaborative in working to keeping a healthy environment for a healthy population.

Please consider becoming a FHC member:

Donate to support the work of Friends of Halifax Common by sending an e-transfer to banking (at)

Wanderers Grounds: Ron Pink Letter to HRM Mayor Savage

FHC recently retained Halifax lawyer Ron Pink with respect to concerns about the Halifax Regional Municipality’s (HRM) use of the Wanderers Grounds. HRM is operating in violation of the HRM Charter, the 1994 Halifax Common Plan and the Plan’s intent to maintain public access to all Common land. The letter, FHC 2023 07 10 Letter to Mayor Savage from Ronald Pink is intended to give HRM an opportunity to cease and desist all acts on non-compliance.

FHC has many posts, letters and interviews about our concerns for the Wanderers Grounds here:

Please consider becoming a FHC member:

Or donate by e-transfer to banking (at)