St Pat’s Background Report Inaccurate, Inadequate & Biased

HRM has posted a background report by WSP Canada Inc. about the former St. Patrick’s High School site (Quinpool 6067) in advance of Wendesday’s meeting. The three concept designs are not  yet avalable.  Errors and omissions in the report are detailed below. The report

St Pat's Process Flawed

St Pat’s Process Deeply Flawed (Photo-Rebecca Lau/Global News)

would be a very faulty basis for a public consultation and should be withdrawn and revised before the consultation starts.

The report is clearly biased towards a large scale development despite a 2013 Stantec Report commissioned by HRM determined that there is sufficient development capacity in the Regional Capital to meet density targets for the next 25 years. Presently there is equivalent to 20 empty blocks of land in the downtown, most used as parking lots and most with existing development agreements and yet  the report does not consider retaining this land as public open space.  Below is a list of the problems, followed by some discussion.

1.  The report does not mention the existing height limit on the property.
2.  The report has an inadequate discussion of the Quinpool Road Commercial Area Plan (QRCAP).
3.  The densities on surrounding blocks are calculated incorrectly.
4.  The wind consultants did not consider the effect of winds on Cogswell Park, between Windsor, Parker and Welsford Streets.
5.  The report starts with a density that is twice as great as the density allowed in this part of Halifax.


  1. The report does not mention the existing height limit on the property.

Zoning Map ZM-17 clearly shows that there is a height limit of 45 feet on this property. This is an important regulation, and the public deserves to be told about it. Omitting this regulation from a document intended to give background information to the public is serious.

This information is also omitted from the HRM website, A “frequently asked question” is “What could be constructed there?” The response does not mention the height limit.

The height limit could be changed as a result of a motion by Council. But the onus should be on anyone seeking to change the height limit to prove that some other proposed height would have greater benefit to the public than the present height.

The height limit was requested by the Quinpool Road Merchant’s Association, who recognized that shortage of parking was limiting business on the street, and that more intense development would only increase the parking problems.

  1. The report spends only half a page (of 58 pages) discussing the Quinpool Road Commercial Area Plan (QRCAP), which provides the existing policies for the site. The report quotes only the general objective of the Plan. The report gives more space to discussion of a hypothetical Centre Plan, which has no policies yet.

The Quinpool Road Plan states the future use of this site should be Community Facilities. The Plan refers to three pages of policies for Community Facilities in the City-wide section of the Halifax Municipal Planning Strategy. The background report should discuss these policies.

The onus should be on anyone proposing to change the designation of this site to prove that another future use would have greater benefit to the public.

The report does not mention Policy 2.2 of the QRCAP, which states, “The City shall establish a height precinct to regulate new development generally consistent with existing development in adjacent residential areas. This height shall be 35 feet to the west of Oxford Street and 45 feet to the east of Oxford Street.” This policy explains the 45-foot height limit. The height must be consistent with existing development in adjacent residential areas. The nearest residential areas to this site are the two-storey houses on Parker, Welsford and Allen Streets, the four-storey apartments behind the Quinpool Centre, and St. Vincent’s Nursing Home, which is about six storeys.

  1. The report on pages 25 and 43 has an interesting map of population densities on nearby blocks. Unfortunately, the densities are calculated incorrectly, and may be greater than the correct densities by an order of magnitude.
  1. RWDI, the wind consultants, appear on page 40 to have considered the effect of winds on the Halifax Common, beyond the Armco building, but did not consider the effect on Cogswell Park, the triangular park between Windsor, Welsford and Parker Streets. This park is closer, and more likely to be affected. RWDI should be asked to provide an opinion about wind effects on this park.
  1. On page 43, the report quotes the density allowed in Schedule A. However, the report does not say that the 6067 Quinpool site is outside Schedule A. The report says the quoted density is “a starting point for discussion around appropriate density”, even though the quoted density is double the density allowed if the property were rezoned to the multiple dwelling zone.