Tag Archives: North Common

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)

Blockbuster Highrise Proposed for Quinpool & Robie

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. A public meeting will be scheduled. Please read below to learn what the implications are and how you can be involved.

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.

Some details:
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: clerks@halifax.ca