Presently there are 2 proposals by 2 developers for 3 block-buster towers of 28, 24 and 12 storeys near the Willow Tree intersection. (For comparison, Fenwick Towers is 32 storeys and Bell Aliant is 22 storeys) These highrises are not permitted under present planning regulations, set a bad precedent and will harm the Halifax Common experience. Please read below to learn what the implications are and how you can be involved.
Block-Busting – When developers apply for special exemptions or changes to smaller parcels of land that ignore an existing master plan and are at odds with a big picture view of what is permitted under existing zoning regulations its known as block-busting or spot-rezoning.
Near the Willow Tree intersection (Quiinpool Road, Robie & Parker Streets), two developers are trying to increase height limits and reduce or eliminate open space and set-back requirements. These are applications for spot-rezoning. The proposed spot-developments are looking for major exceptions to present land-use by-laws that are based on broad and comprehensive public consultation. These existing plans and regulations provide a predictable framework that guides development.
Unfortunately this kind of block-busting creates exactly the sort of controversy that blames Haligonians for being against developers and change. Developer George Armoyan banned from city buildings due to threatening behaviour | The Chronicle Herald
Too bad, because a 2013 Stantec Report, commissioned by the city concluded projected density requirements can met under the existing planning rules.
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Effect of Spot-Rezoning on the Halifax Common
The 1994 Halifax Common Plan emphasizes that views, streetscapes and trees are an essential features of the Halifax Common and its perimeter. Spot-developments allowing high-rises will permanently alter the experience of being on the Halifax Common by blocking the view and sky, increasing the shadows and increasing the wind. When you walk home from downtown the western sky at this location will be blocked. People working or living in the private sky-scrapers will be the private owners or our Common view. As well, it sets a precedent for block busting and breaking height restrictions with any future developers who are hoping to re-develop their properties with high-rises anywhere around the perimeter of the Halifax Common.
An on-line public survey by HRM staff about these projects does not offer the option of “no change to allowable height” or “no change to allowable set-backs” but you can write this as you preferred choice in the comment section. The survey is also incorrect about the shadow effect of tall-thin buildings being less than shorter ones.
APL Redevelopment: Presently, the corner of Quinpool and Parker Streets has a maximum allowable height of ~ 5 and 14 storeys, north-west of the Willow Tree. The APL re-development proposal wants 12 storeys (3 times the allowable maximum) and 28 storeys (2 times the allowable maximum).
Westwood Redevelopment: The former Cruikshank’s funeral home (2 storeys) and a single family home (2 storeys) at 2032-2050 Robie Street, north-west of the Willow Tree has a maximum allowable height of ~ 4 storeys. The Westwood re-development proposal wants 24 storeys or 6 times the allowable maximum height.
Setbacks: Existing regulations requires that apartments have a set back of 20 or 10 feet to reduce the effect on the neighbouring properties such as solar loss or wind. Both developers are looking for complete exemptions.
In 2013 study HRM commissioned a Stantec report that concluded there is enough existing development potential within the Regional Capital to meet future density targets set out in the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy based on EXISTING height allowances. Changing the rules to favour individual developers isn’t necessary to achieve density and existing neighbourhoods can continue to be protected.
The Halifax City Staff report favours density but ignores the results of its own Stantec Report.
Some Height Comparisons
- Welsford Apt. – 19 storeys
- Atlantic Hotel – 16 storeys
- Quinpool Towers – 12 storeys
- Aliant Building – 21 storeys
- Fenwick Towers – 32 storeys
- APL Proposal – 28 & 12 storeys (allowed now – 4-storey & 16 storey)
- Westwood Proposal– 24 storeys (allowed now – 4 storey)
Concerned? Write the Mayor and Council directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org