Tag Archives: Development Options Halifax

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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Chronicle Herald: Rally Against Robie Street demolitions

[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.

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Public Hearings for Multiple Towers, September 7th

HRM hosted two public hearings on September 7, 6pm (day after Labour Day) via zoom and approved Case 20761 and Case 22927. The huge public opposition to these proposals was seriously misrepresented by HRM staff and ignored by everyone but Patty Cuttel the only HRM Councillor to vote against the Rouvalis proposal. This is a bad process. It continues to result in a bad outcome.

Case 20761 (red): Carlton Block at Robie, Spring Garden, College, Carlton

Case 20761 – Rouvali 28, 29-storey towers are being considered separately from Dexel’s Cast 20218 for 2 ~30-storey towers. Model by Hadrian Laing.

Developer Rouvalis can now build TWO TOWERS, 28 and 29 storey + penthouses, at Robie and College. Confusingly, Case 20218 (orange) developer Dexel also wants TWO ~30-storey towers in the same block at Robie and Spring Garden, but these 2 developments are being considered separately. Dexel’s towers will be considered at a future public hearing for the 2 towers. If permitted together the FOUR ~30-storey towers will demolish 12-14 buildings, 110-114 affordable units; an area equivalent to a 12-storey building. There will be stalls for ~861 cars. Constructing new towers will emit 31,000 tonnes+ of greenhouse gas. Development Options Halifax modeled a 9-storey in-fill option with~ 550 units and keeping all but one building.

Case 22927 (orange): Willow Tree Block on Robie near Quinpool
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Chronicle Herald: Group concerned with proposed central Halifax highrise developments

Peggy Cameron of Development Options Halifax stands at Robie and College streets on Mon., July 5, 2021. The group is concerned that two central Halifax mixed-use development proposals will negatively impact the historic Carlton Street neighbourhood. – Noushin Ziafati

Noushin Ziafati – July 6, 2021
An advocacy group says it’s concerned that a set of proposed highrise developments in central Halifax will negatively impact the historic Carlton Street neighbourhood and that Halifax Regional Municipality hasn’t been transparent in the approval processes for the buildings, which a local councillor adamantly denies. Continue reading

Carlton Block’s “Upward Creep” Proposals Ignore Both Public Concerns and HRM Regional Plan Policy Considerations

Media Release
July 4, 2021 –For immediate release

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) HRM’s response to significant public concerns over two massive Spring Garden Road high-rises that will overwhelm and negatively impact the entire historic Carlton Street neighbourhood has been to give the developers even more height.

Regional Plan Policy CH-16-Development Abutting Heritage Properties- 5 guidelines are ignored

On June 23, the HRM Heritage Advisory Committee moved the Rouvails proposal-Case 20761, at Robie Street, College Street and Carlton Street a step closer to approval, with the new heights now increased to 28 and 29 storeys plus penthouses from the original proposal of 20 and 26 storeys. This development will be adjacent to Dexel’s proposal- Case 20218, for two towers originally proposed as 16 and 30 storeys but now also approved for up to 90m or 29 storeys plus penthouses. Continue reading

FHC Requests HRM Auditor General Review Public Consultative Process as a Charter Matter

August, 2020-Letter to HRM Auditor General
Re- Review of HRM Planning’s public consultative process as a Charter matter
This letter (accompanied by 10 brief case studies) is to request that HRM Auditor General conduct a review of HRM Planning Department’s public engagement process and outcomes with respect to HRM planning and council votes. In writing to you we wish to note that we are aware of your July 2018 report to HRM Council on the operation of the Planning Department with respect to development agreements. We are prompted to write regarding a crucial aspect of the operations of that Department not addressed in the report, namely public participation.
The HRM Charter, Part VIII, s.208 states: “The purpose of this Part is to …(c) establish a consultative process to ensure the right of the public…to participate in the formulation of planning strategies…”
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3-D Model Shows the Big Picture


Hadrian Laing presents his model of proposed Carlton Street developments to a group of interested citizens.

Development Options Halifax wants the city to require 3-D models for all developments and for changes proposed with the Centre Plan.
Learn why in this interview from News 95.7FM where host Todd Veinotte speaks with the architect and 3-D modeller Hadrian Laing:
Then read & sign the petition – https://forms.gle/3enTs6PfSkmMmNW48

Public hearing – “Pizza with the Works” to be Served

At 6pm, Tuesday May 21, at a Public Hearing at City Hall Mayor and Council will decide what their appetite is for a proposed 8-storey + penthouse building at the corner of Robie, Cunard and Compton Streets. Changing the existing height restriction of 35-40’ along the western edge of Robie Street to permit the development will drastically alter the character streetscape that citizens view from and near the Halifax’s North Common.

An 8-storey + penthouse "Pizza with the works" development will go to public hearing on Tuesday May 21, 6pm. 6 to 8 historic buildings on the western edge of the North Common will be demolished.

An 8-storey + penthouse “Pizza with the works” development will go to public hearing on Tuesday May 21, 6pm. 6 to 8 historic buildings on the western edge of the North Common will be demolished.

The multi-coloured, multi-facaded building is like an over-sized pizza with the works but so far, feedback from about 80 citizens at two Public consultations confirming this has been largely ignored,” said Peggy Cameron, Friends of Halifax Common co-chair. “It’s troubling that while cities around the world are recognizing the importance of distinctive, historic buildings as critical for economic, social, cultural and environmental reasons, Halifax would even consider changing the rules to tear down another 6-8 character buildings* and continue our conversion into an any-where, any-city streetscape.

Citizen’s group Development Options Halifax is calling for 3-D models of all developments being considered now and under the proposed Centre Plan before its approval. “3-D models show details that otherwise are being missed,” says the group’s Larry Haiven. “In this case we could better understand what the result will be if city changes the exiting height restriction to permit this massive building on the western edge of the Halifax Common, what the effect on the neighbourhood is or how adding 75 cars impacts Compton Street and the nearby busy intersection at Robie,” said the retired Saint Mary’s business professor.

Two properties adjacent to the proposal on Cunard were recently bought and renovated into attractive, multi-unit buildings that are-in-keeping with the character of the neighbourhood. Studies prove that older, smaller, neighbourhoods are more sought after for successful destinations.

Neighbourhood restaurants like Jane’s on the Common (now re-located to Gottingen Street), Studio 21, Elliot & Vine, Robie Street Station, El Chino Snack Bar and Tony’s are examples of what makes this part of the city interesting. The new offering gives nothing to the community while proposing huge advantages to the developer.

*Some of the multi-unit historic buildings to be demolished are:

2162 and 2164 Robie (at Compton)


2166 Robie Street

2176 Robie Street


2178 Robie and 2182 Robie (at Cunard)

Dear Centre Plan, Show us your 3-D models!

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 timeeven 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 buildings or one 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.

Please ask the Mayor and Council to not approve these 2 developments. Sign the petition: https://forms.gle/3enTs6PfSkmMmNW48


Heritage is Greater than the Sum of the Parts

In early January FHC as part of Development Options Halifax held a media conference to show a model of two massive developments (16-, 20-, 26- and 30-storey towers) proposed for the historic Carlton Street area together to the public for the first time. Listen to the interview below by News 95.7 Sheldon MacLeod about the work that this group is initiating, to learn what better and more sustainable options for densification in Halifax could be, and to understand the context on what is at risk if we follow these developers’ lead and lose older, smaller, mixed-use neighbourhoods.

Proposed changes to heritage properties in this historic neighbourhood were approved by the Mayor and Council on Jan 29th- see details below. This continues the way for the two proposals that together are equivalent to ~80% of the new convention centre, and the demolition of 12 buildings on the Halifax Common’s only remaining historic neighbourhood. (See three related media stories below.) 

Please take action! There’s a draft sample letter that you can copy and paste to the Mayor and Council, the Heritage Advisory Committee, the Halifax and West Peninsula Community Council c/o clerks@halifax.ca here https://www.facebook.com/pg/halifaxcommon/posts/ and there are other details here https://www.developmentoptionshfx.com/take-action/  

Some approved changes to Carlton St. Heritage properties are:

Case H00456 (Rouvalis) proposes several amendments to heritage properties in the historic Carlton Street area. The major one is relocating two buildings on College Street east to lots adjacent to Carlton Street so their properties can be freed up for the proposed 20 and 26 storey developments. After the move, the Gold Cure Institute, a registered heritage building at 5969 College Street and the unregistered 5963 College would be re-registered as heritage properties. Parking for 384 underground vehicles is proposed to go next to the heritage properties on College Street.

Case H00462 (Lawen/Dexel) proposes several amendments, the major ones being the subdivision of four rear yards of houses on Carlton Street so the new lots can be part of the proposed 16 and 30 storey developments. As part of this, 5950 Spring Garden Road, a house which was joined to 1494 Carlton Street (the home of Margaret Marshall Saunders at the corner of Carlton Street and Spring Garden Road) with an adjoining addition in the 1990s making it a heritage property will be demolished. Parking access for 380 underground vehicles is proposed to go between the Margaret Marshall Saunders home at 1494 Carlton Street and 1484 Carlton Street.

In 2012 and again in 2016 Heritage Trust requested that this area be considered a Heritage Conservation District as 50% of the buildings in the area are heritage and another 11 would qualify. So why is HRM working to move, demolish and subdivide heritage properties when the only beneficiary is private profit for private developers who want 16-, 23-, 26- and 30-storey towers to loom over Carlton Street?