[Stephen Cooke | Posted: April 9, 2022] While a portable speaker played the sound of Joni Mitchell singing “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” Haligonians dismayed by the recent destruction of historic homes on Robie Street gathered in front of the rubble-strewn site across from Camp Hill Cemetery.
Organized by the citizens’ group Development Options Halifax, the rally at the corner of Robie and Bliss streets was held to make residents aware of impending changes to the neighbourhood, and to request they take action against ongoing developments that are changing the character of the city at the expense of affordable housing, the environment and reducing congestion on its streets.
In 1960s the Cogswell “slum clearances” demolished 3,000 buildings with affordable housing, small scale businesses and diversity. Building & construction is responsible for 39% of greenhouse gas emissions. photo-Stephen Archibald-Brunswick Street, Halifax 1965/66
Listen to CBC’s Bob Murphy and guests Tom Urbaniak, professor at Cape Breton University and Tom Morrison, engineer at Heritage Standing Inc. discuss the multiple advantages of keeping old buildings-economic, social, cultural and very important – environment and climate change.
Dalhousie architecture student Hadrian Laing volunteered to produce this 3-D model of 4 towers proposed for historic the Carlton St. neighbourhood- together & for the first time!
FHC has joined other citizens to form Development Options Halifax. Recently the public saw our 3-D print model of 4 towers that 2 developers want to build at Carleton, College, Spring Garden and Robie. This technology is readily available, effective and cheap but it’s the first time it’s been used to model developments for Halifax citizens.
In January we developed and showed the public drawings of the two proposals together, again for the first time – even though they’re on the same block HRM processes and meetings have been entirely separate! The model is so successful we call on HRM to provide 3-D print models of all proposed developments and Centre Plan changes in advance of its approval. The public has the right to know what HRM plans for the city. This “to scale” model captures how out-of-scale the proposals, at 80% the square footage of the convention centre, are. It allows a comparison of before and after, and helps explore better options for in-fill respectful of Halifax Common’s last historic neighbourhood.
HRM planning needs a more open, transparent process.During June 2016 Centre Plan public consultations, HRM Staff story-boards suggested their target of addition 400 residents to the area could be accommodated in two 10-storey buildingsorone 10-storey building and two 5-storey buildings. But Staff didn’t include the already approved 18-storey high-rise that Killam will build on Carlton by Camp Hill Cemetery – it would house 70% of the 400 residents!
There are so many unanswered questions. How is it volunteers are showing the mass and scale of these developments together to the public for the first time? And presenting the first 3-D model? Why are the 2012 and 2016 requests by Heritage Trust for the last historic neighbourhood on the Halifax Common to be designated as a conservation area being ignored? Almost 50% of the buildings are heritage and another 11 qualify. Why is HRM planning for the wasteful destruction of up to 12 buildings? Its a small-scale, mixed-use, commercial and residential neighborhood with many affordable units and hidden density.
There are better options. The 3-D model helped us visualize and calculate that 8-storey buildings could be constructed in the 48,000 sq ft of parking area in the centre of the block. These could accommodate approximately 213 two-bedroom units or ~534 people. Similarly a low-rise building could be built at Killam’s property at 5880 Spring Garden Road next to the Glitter Bean. The towers are not necessary.
Rick Howe’s interview Peggy Cameron about her photographic exhibition- Corridor Wasting Disease: Robie Street, A Case Study helps us understand why proposals such as demolishing 7 houses to build an 8-storey box at Robie, Compton & Cunard are the worst choice for the economic, cultural, social and environmental needs of our city. The exhibition continues at the NS Museum of Natural History until Nov. 2nd.
“In nature, everything is connected,” states environmental consultant and photographer Peggy Cameron. “Likewise, this city is an ecosystem. If we harm part of a species, it harms us all.”
Cameron, a longtime member of the Friends of Halifax Common, has shot pictures of every house on the west side of Robie Street between North and South streets — trees, traffic, pedestrians and all — to show that these are real places. Documented like living creatures under dire threat of extinction, more than 100 images of character homes will be hanging all month in a downstairs corridor of the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History as part of Photopolis, Halifax’s biennial photography festival.
Landscape format. Four by six inches in dimension. Printed on linen paper. Tacked to wall, not pinned.
Please attend this important meeting and make comments on the 19 proposed developments…
The classic 3-storey Coburg Apartments, an Edwardian-era building at Spring Garden and Robie, on the South Common, is one of a dozen+ buildings that will be demolished by two developers if their plans for 16 & 30 storey and 20 & 26 storey high-rises in the single block between Carlton, College, Robie and Spring Garden Road are approved.
Most of the 19 proposals are for highrises that break existing height restrictions and are out-of -scale with neighbourhoods. They’ll cause dozens of affordable small-scale, mixed-use residential units, commercial spaces & historic houses to be demolished. This will harm Halifax’s Common in various ways. Examples are:
13 storey on Robie, Cunard – Compton
14 storey on Robie St, Pepperell – Shirley
16 & 30 storey on Spring Garden Rd & Robie west of Carlton
20 & 26 storey on College & Robie St west of Carlton