Tag Archives: St Pat’s High School

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…”
Continue reading

Welcome Spring Around the Common!

FHC’s 2014 photographic exhibition “Parking the Common” found 20-25% of the Common is parking, a private use of public space. Making the Common Halifax’s first car free zone would be an investment in our future. Imagine Central Park as you walk the 4km perimeter to welcome Spring! Cunard, North Park, Ahern, South Park, South, Robie.

Why not welcome Spring with a walk around the Common?  The perimeter  is ~4km and it takes ~1 hour to circumnavigate. Until now public directives telling us to stay at home to help flatten the COVID-19 curve have not banned being outside. That’s lucky, as while our society prioritizes health benefits associated with rigorous physical activity – sports, running, gym-workouts – having regular outdoor time has important physical and mental health benefits such as reducing anxiety, stress and negative emotions; improving memory, immunity, healing, focus, vision, longevity; and managing weight or growing food! See FHC bibliography greenspace

Remember to respect the 2m social distancing directive as many countries have shut parks Continue reading

Common Roots Urban Farm – Transplant it to St Pat’s!

Gardening doula Jayme Melrose at Common Roots Urban Farm (Chronicle Herald, Christian LaForce / Staff / 2015)

An idea planted by FHC led Jayme Melrose and  her volunteers to transform QEHS lands into a place of productive beauty. Now the farm is evicted and still homeless. So let’s imagine the St Pat’s site with that same vision & ask HRM to transplant Common Roots to Quinpool. 95.7’s Listen to Sheldon MacLeod’s interview with FCH for details. 

 

Time to care for Canada’s oldest, besieged Common – Chronicle Herald Op Ed

CBC Mainstreet Interview -The Common Roots Farm Move is a Chance to Grow Our Parks!

CBC’s Bob Murphy interviews  Common Roots Urban Farm’s Jayme Melrose about its impending move from the former QEHS site on the Halifax Common.  FHC’s Peggy Cameron follows (at 09:40) to describe the search for a new location as a chance for the city to expand its parks and live up to its past commitments. More green space is essential for the Farm, for our health, and for our growing population.

The draft Centre Plan proposes adding 33,000 new residents in the next 15 years without any new public parks. Three examples using government-owned land to expand Common green space and relocate the Urban Farm are:

  1. St Pat’s on Quinpool- next to St Vincent’s seniors complex is an excellent sunny central location for the Farm. And plan to continue with green network extending to the North West Arm.
  2. The Cogwell Interchange near the Centennial Pool (and a new outdoor pool nearby) as plan to extend a green network to the Halifax Harbour
  3. The Park Within a Park at the former School for the Blind, now the VG Parking lot on the South Common; a commitment for 200 trees and 200 parking places, a scented garden, a small playground and a landscaped block of Tower Road promised in 1986. See more here https://www.halifaxcommon.ca/common-roots-urban-farm-needs-a-home-think-big/

Common Roots Urban Farm Needs a Home- Think BIG!

In return for the School for the Blind land being given to the VG, citizens were promised a fully landscaped Park within a Park (200 trees & 200 parking places), a scented garden and a landscaped path along the block of Tower Road. Maybe the VG Parking lot can be a new urban farm?

Common Roots Urban Farm will need a new home after this growing season. Plan to attend the public engagement session – Wed, April 11, 7-9 pm, at Citadel High’s Atrium to explore ideas for its future.

Its time to think bigger! That’s how we got the Urban Farm in the first place. Back in 2007 HRM and Capital Health brokered a land swap for the Queen Elizabeth High site even though it was to return to the Halifax Common. The backroom deal was done before any public consultation. FHC challenged the sale of the Common and managed to convince some smart folks at Capital Health that a good interim use would be a farm/garden. Then FHC introduced them to gardening doula Jayme Melrose and slowly after a genuine public engagement process and a lot of hard work the Common Roots Urban Farm grew.

We need more Common not less. Despite growing evidence that public open space is vital for health and well-being HRM’s draft Centre Plan proposes adding 33,000 new residents in the next 15 years without any new public green space or parks, just higher buildings & more shade, especially on and near the Common. And the Health Authority which sits on 50-60 acres of Halifax Common isn’t clear it places any value on open space (unless you count parking lots).
While other cities around the world are creating new parks HRM can only imagine how to sell, give or trade its public lands, surplus schools and even streets on the Peninsula for development.

We are losing ground. The Halifax Common’s open space is already about 20% of the original 235-acre grant. Recently, without any public process, HRM rushed to support a private-for-profit-pop-up-stadium for a professional soccer team on the newly refurbished Wanderer’s Grounds, even though the field is fully booked with amateur players. And days before the consultation for the Halifax Common Master Plan was announced, HRM silently watched Capital Health purchase the CBC TV Building instead of ensuring its return to the Common. There easily another dozen other examples of HRM approved losses.

We can increase public green space by using city-owned land to extend the Halifax Common and expand its green network. Here are 3 ideas for three directions.

  1. West- Selling the former St Pat’s High School site is short-sighted. On Quinpool, next to St Vincent’s seniors’ home it would be a perfect new location for the Farm. Planning for the future it could be the start of a green route all the way to the North West Arm.
  2. East- Create a green park on the Cogswell Interchange that goes from the Halifax Common to the Halifax Harbour. Place the Farm on the Centennial Pool parking lot with a new outdoor pool nearby.
  3. South- Have the city and province honour their 1986 commitment that the former School for the Blind site would a landscaped Park within a Park and public pathway. (see image)

HRM is too careless with our Common. Short term profit is no match for the long-term pay-back of expanding our city’s green space and improving our health, habitat and especially our ability to weather climate change.

So far HRM has not included either the Health Authority, Dalhousie or private lands on the Common in the public consultation process for the Common’s Masterplan. Again this ignores the 1994 Halifax Common Plan. It also pretends that HRM cannot assume its normal government role to regulate planning throughout the entire Common. Being hands-off does not protect the Common but it certainly serves the purposes of developers be they private or institutional.

Its time to cultivate a green attitude. Faced with a dwindling Halifax Common its pretty clear that if we want a Common we better be prepared to defend the Common. Giving away the Common is a bad HRM habit. Every bit counts. So speak up and ask for more not less!

FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/374118636330757/everyone who appreciates the farm to help envision the farm’s future at a public engagement session on April 11.

Centre Plan – The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain Stupid

There’s one good change for the Halifax Common in the draft Centre Plan but the rest seems like more bad news…
The Good The draft Centre Plan designates the Halifax Common a “Cultural Landscape” (p 54) but now it needs to make it meaningful by adopting the 1994 Halifax Common Plan as part of the Municipal Planning Strategy so the primary goals to not give up and to re-capture open space on Halifax’s Common are met not just platitudes.

The Bad Robie Street and a dozen other streets such as Cunard, Agricola, Chebucto are designated as “Corridors” with a goal of “redevelopment of new housing, commercial spaces and job opportunities in mixed use buildings” (p 96). By increasing permitted building heights to 4-6 storeys along Robie Street, the Centre Plan will create an incentive for developers to chew through a long-established, small-scale, mixed-use, Continue reading

“Making a Bad Situation Worse,” FHC Centre Plan Submission

Centre Plan Primary and Secondary Targeted Growth Areas

Centre Plan Primary and Secondary Targeted Growth Areas

“We see the draft Centre Plan as making a bad situation worse. We urge a complete re-thinking of the draft Plan.”  Howard Epstein, Board Member, Friends of Halifax Common

Below are FHC Board Member Howard Epstein’s comments on HRM’s June 27th draft Centre Plan Growth Scenarios submitted to HRM Community Advisory Committee. His letter addresses concerns about the Plan’s general approach and the failure to protect the Halifax Common. Click Here to read previous FHC submissions to HRM’s Centre Plan (PDF) and here (previous post).


August 5, 2016

I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Friends of the Halifax Common to offer comments on the draft Centre Plan.

While the main focus of the FHC is on those aspects of the draft Plan that have immediate impact on the Common, we see those matters as arising in an overall context. That is, the general approach of the draft Plan is also reflected in those portions that are directly related to the Common. These comments, therefore, start with the overall approach of the draft Plan, and then move to specific focus on the Common. Continue reading

Respect Public Values, Stop St Pat’s Process Until After Centre Plan

Fake public process offers towers lost in space with Styrofoam trees.

Fake public process offers 10-18 storey towers lost in space with Styrofoam trees configured as a donut. (Photo: Ted Pritchard, Chronicle Herald, 2016)

FHC’s Peggy Cameron speaks with Rick Howe’s about problems with the St Pat’s process and other development agreements in the city.  The Peninsular Advisory Committee (PAC) will re-convene on June 27th to further discuss St Pat’s fate. There’s still time to tell the Mayor and Council to stop precluding the Centre Plan and take action to protect existing neighbourhoods. Write to them at clerks@halifax.ca

St Pat’s Report – Ignores Public In-put, Favours Big Development.

May 27, 2016
Dear Peninsular Advisory Committee Members:
RE: St Pat’s High School
I am writing to suggest that the process for determining what should be built on the former St Pat’s High School has not been conducted with enough rigor or within a proper framework to ensure its final recommendations are valid and to ask that any decision about this property be deferred until after the Centre Plan is completed.
The public comments from the meeting that Councilor Watts held on May 21, 2014 to initiate discussion about possible outcomes for the St Pat’s High School site as documented here:
https://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/140722ca1118.pdf are completely ignored in the final plan. Because these comments do not seem to be in the final report as presented for review by the PAC please find a brief summary of what the fifty+ people at this meeting emphasized as important:

  • Retaining some public use of the space especially for an auditorium or performance space;
  • Keeping, improving and connecting public open green space;
  • Using the space to support community needs such as seniors housing, francophone community, or non-profits;
  • Redeveloping for commercial, residential and community to complement the existing neighbourhood and Quinpool Road district- no highrises, beauty, green space, public space, pedestrian friendly;
  • Reconfiguring roads and creating better options for pedestrians, cyclists and connectivity and deal with existing traffic problems.

As well “key design principles that include: urban openness that allows visual and physical access to traditionally private space, human scale, public open spaces, a variety of residential and commercial spaces, capturing the spirit of the existing neighbourhood, and creativity in design” as identified by the project consultant in July 2015 are largely ignored in the final outcome. Continue reading

St Pat’s – Where is the 3-D Model? What is the Public Benefit?

HRM’s survey on the St. Pat’s site developments closes Jan 4th. BUT you can still email         vodickr@Halifax.ca  that you’d like to see like to see some 3-D models or dioramas. We need to understand what the cumulative impact of so many buildings will be.

Previous problems identified by FHC posts and a Willow Tree Group‘s editorial remain: a total floor area of 47,000m2 allows too much bulk and; a density of ~280 persons/acre compared to the 125 permitted is too high. These would permit 1 or 2 slab high-rises of 18- storeys and others of 7-13 storeys up to 60m wide. Without a master Centre Plan this is a bad precedent for proposed nearby developments.

Developers plan to stuff the block east of Victoria Park with highrises. HaRMbyDesign has left the pbulic out of the pciture.

Developers plan to stuff the block east of Victoria Park with highrises. HRMbyDesign leaves the public out of the picture. Its the developer’s decision to have million dollar condo owners hear the guy in the next building flush his toilet. Or watch him. The same kind of planning is happening at the St Pat’s site where no 3-D or modeled planning for proposed development is available.

If you want to imagine how bad, take a look at the new developments planned for South Park, Brenton and Clyde Street in Schmidtville next to Victoria Park. Smart citizens built a mock-up of what the city is allowing next to the Trillium.  3-D creates a very disturbing impression compared to flat diagrams and abstract numbers pitched by consultants.

St Pat’s is the public’s property.  Tell the City to take the time to get the plan right.  Its time to break out the lego, cardboard and glue sticks. Let’s design some public benefit.

Rick Howe Interview: St Pat’s Land- Plan For Our Future

Common Roots Urban Farm is an inspiration. In 2007 instead of returning the former QEHS land to the Halifax Common as promised, HRM traded it to Capital Health. FHC and smart Capital Health decision-makers agreed that a community garden would be a good interim use. In the 5 years since a valid public consultation, gardening doula Jayme Melrose’s imaginative

In 5 years Jayme Melrose and her team of volunteers have transformed the QEHS land into a place of productive beauty. Let's have a vision for St Pat's that's bigger than a developer's profit.

The QEHS land is now a place of productive beauty. We need a vision for St Pat’s that is bigger than a developer’s profit.

guidance and amazing volunteers have transformed it into a productive, edible landscape. But it’s temporary.
Rick Howe’s interview with Peggy Cameron explains why the Mayor & Council’s decision to sell St. Pat’s is just as short-sighted as the loss of QEHS. Listen to the recording below and then write <clerks@halifax.ca> to tell them to keep the St Pat’s land public.

Herald Counterpoint: St. Pat’s Site is Public Property

Published December 11, 2015
The St. Pat’s High School land belongs to the citizens. Unless citizens decide otherwise, that’s the way it should remain. But city staff, under direction from the Halifax mayor and council continue an invented process to sell off the site.  Why are they so stoked about the sale? They made the decision to sell without asking the owners (you and me). And since then, the process

The state of demolition of the former St. Pat’s High School as of Dec. 4. (INGRID BULMER / Staff)

The state of demolition of the former St. Pat’s High School as of Dec. 4. (INGRID BULMER / Staff)

has been rushed, ill-informed and inadequate.  The single goal is to predetermine the size and number of buildings the purchaser can profitably build. By proposing buildings with greater heights and densities than the existing Regional Municipal Plan, Land Use By-Laws and Quinpool Road Area Plans allow, the city has normalized the understanding that the upcoming Centre Plan will be precluded
Is there a compelling reason to sell off this
centrally located parcel of public land? Not according to a 2013 Stantec report commissioned by HRM.  It determined there’s enough Continue reading

St Pat’s Deadline & Bullshit At 6067 Quinpool Road Post

Friday, August 14 is the deadline for comments at Shape Your City/Manipulate The Citizens for the former St Pat’s High School at 6067 Quinpool Rd.  The April 2014 decision to sell St Pat’s

Fake public process offers towers lost in space with Styrofoam trees.

Contrived public process offers towers lost in space with Styrofoam trees.

was made without any public consultation. Now more pretense at public consultation allows 20 days for comments on three prescribed proposals, The Square, The Grid, & The Plaza.
Bullshit At 6067 Quinpool Road  is a great submission you will want to read.  Maybe you’ll have questions for the Mayor & Council <clerks@halifax.ca>  i.e. Why does it seem that a developer’s agenda not that of the public is being served?  Or,
In the city’s rush to sell off St Pat’s what other ideas such as those of Sheilah Hunt, a former FHC director,Transform St. Pat’s site into Halifax’s cultural:artistic hub | The Chronicle Herald, are we missing out on?

FHC’s previous posts are  here & here & here*

Continue reading

Howard Epstein To Mayor Savage: Use Your Best Efforts

July 15, 2015
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage (Chronicle Herald Photo)Mayor Mike Savage
PO Box 1749, Halifax, NS B3J 3A5

Your Worship:
I am writing on behalf of Friends of Halifax Common to set out an important concern about the state of play in overall land-use planning in the Capital/Regional Centre. Our focus is on the Halifax Common, but some of the issues that illustrate problems that affect the Common are also of wider impact and concern.

Originating with the 2006 Regional Plan, a focus on the Centre has been adopted by Council. Unfortunately this has suffered from delay. It is worthwhile to recall the reasons for this focus in the Regional Plan: stemming general residential sprawl (especially with associated energy use for transportation); controlling the cost of hard and soft infrastructure; and a concern with the hollowing-out of downtowns. These remain valid concerns. Delay has come about through several steps: first, HRM By Design abandoned its initial focus on the whole of the Centre area and dealt for several years exclusively with the Halifax CBD; next, a ‘corridors’ policy was attempted as an interim measure; and in the meantime, Council and the community councils have been dealing with many individual site applications, approving much of what has been asked for.

The result of this has been not only delay in settling on a new Centre plan, but in a series of decisions that effectively pre-determine the results of what should be an open public planning process. Very little will be left to be determined, especially on the Halifax peninsula, if important, individual site-based decisions continue to be made. Continue reading

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