FHC Response to HRM’s ‘in principle’ Halifax Common Master Plan

We invite you to read these detailed comments on the ‘in principle’ Halifax Common Master Plan (the “Plan”) that FHC recently sent to HRM staff.  Collectively it took us thousands of hours. It is comprehensive and worth a look!  (There is a short summary below the map.)

Halifax Common with its boundaries between Robie, Cunard, Park and South Streets, as well as land leased to the Horticultural Society for the Public Gardens, area used for cricket grounds, area used for military exercising grounds, and the water-course from the Egg Pond to the Public Garden pond to Freshwater Brook (water features aren’t labelled).

The response is divided into two parts. An initial statement identifies concerns and a second section has detailed comments. We also included our May 2018 submission on the Centre Plan as so many of these relevant comments, suggestions and asks continue to be ignored.

Among several concerns, a major one is we need a Plan not a Guiding Principles so that it carries weight for the protection of the Common. A second is the city needs to seek legislative protection for the entire Halifax Common and to plan for the entire Common.

The Plan must include a design for the V.G. Hospital parking lot that is significantly green space as promised to the public almost forty years ago. And the Wanderers Block must be maintained for public use-The main current deviation from continuity of public use has to do with the soccer stadium and lease for the Wanderers Grounds. This is not an appropriate location for a permanent or long-term professional or semi-professional sport, as HRM staff emphasized to Council when the short-term lease was first proposed. This privatizes critically important public space. The lease must not be renewed and the Grounds must be returned to amateur players.

COVID taught us that access to public open space is vital for our physical and mental health but it also interfered with our ability to have in-put into the Halifax Common Master Plan process. In Dec 2021HRM’s Community Planning and Economic Development standing Committee agreed with FHC, Halifax Lancers and others that the draft Halifax Common Master Plan wasn’t ready to pass “Go.”

Thanks to ~100 citizens who wrote letters HRM Council also agreed that HRM staff should have further consultation and take the plan back to the public. We invite you to read our latest submission as its important that we all stay involved and make sure the plan is the best possible one! We thank our ~3,000 supporters for your continued efforts to help make this happen.