Tag Archives: Willow Tree

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
Continue reading

FHC Submission to HRM Review of Regional Plan

We are deeply concerned about recent incursions into the Halifax Common…

The Halifax Common grant in 1763 was for 235 acres ” to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.” This entire area was to be considered for planning purposes in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

…from proposed multiple high rises (16-, 28-, 29- and 30-storey and ~900 cars – similar in mass to the Nova Centre) at the corner of Spring Garden Road and Robie Street; the expansion of major QE2 facilities onto parkland adjacent to the Natural History Museum and along Bell Road with two parking garages; the exclusive use of the Wanderer’s Grounds by a professional soccer team; the overwhelming use of the remaining open space of the Common of organized sports and programmed uses; the eviction of the Common Roots Urban Farm from the area and the slow progress of the Halifax Common Master Plan by HRM Staff begun in 2017 and that has been without significant public input for nearly two years. Continue reading

Cancel the Proposed WSP 23-storey high-rise-Case 22927

The Westwood high-rise tower at 2032-2050 Robie Street has already been turned down by HRM Mayor and Council. Height for this location was to be restricted to 6-storeys. The Development Agreement is discretionary-Mayor and Council should cancel the project.

Dear HRM Planners, Mayor and Council
Re: Cancel the Proposed WSP high-rise- Case 22927

The proposed Westwood high-rise tower at 2032-2050 Robie Street has already been turned down by HRM Mayor and Council. Height for this location was to be restricted to 6-storeys. Council’s decision to allow a Development Agreement is discretionary and should be cancelled. It is effectively raising the dead. This Development Agreement not only denies the earlier council decision and staff recommendations to limit the height to 6 storeys, it makes a mockery of public participation by voiding the historic and more recent input of citizens. 

Values reflected by statements such as Councillor Smith’s June 2019 motion In recognition of the substantial investment made in the preparation of a planning applications for the site located at 2032- 2050 Robie Street, Halifax beg the question whose interest are Mayor, Council and staff representing?  The owner’s investment of money in thinking about what to do with their land is not a legitimate basis for approving a project. Continue reading

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

Rick Howe Interview – Council Caves on Willow Tree Tower

HRM Council approved 25 storeys at Quinpool /Robie.

In June HRM Council ignored public opinion and staff advice to vote 10 to 6 in favour of George Armoyen’s 25-storey tower at Robie and Quinpool. The building will degrade the neighbourhood and the Halifax Common. And the decision assures an elite class of developers that democratically derived rules don’t matter to Council. Hear a quick review…

FHC’s Presentation to Council at Willow Tree Public Hearing

Present rules restrict Armco’s 11-storey building at Robie and Quinpool to its present size to protect the Halifax Common and its neighbourhood.

June 19, 2018

Dear Mayor and Council,

Friends of Halifax Common oppose this proposed 25-storey tower. Further we believe this project is the wrong focus for HRM staff, Council and the public at this time.

FHC has closely followed or participated in the ~ 20 “events” that have led to today’s extra public hearing. These included public information meetings, Peninsula Advisory Committee meetings, a survey, HRM staff reports and supplementary reports, Community Council and Council of the Whole reviews and votes and scheduled, cancelled and re-scheduled public hearings. FHC’s major review and request for a new comprehensive staff report submitted in May 2017 has been ignored.

This project’s consumption of HRM staff and Mayor and council resources paid for by the public tax dollar has all been to ensure that the desired profit of an unsolicited project owned by a single developer can be met and has proceeded without disclosure of any business case or financial evidence.

The proposed tower should not be considered for many reasons.

  • It breaks 10 Halifax Peninsula Land Use By-laws under the Municipal Planning Strategy and could not be built under the draft Centre Plan.
  • HRM staff have recommended against this height-they are your professionals.
  • The majority of the public oppose the building and its not just a small vocal minority as asserted by the developer. An independent CRA poll found that over half of those polled supported 16 storeys or less and only 10% supported 25-storeys.
  • Densification can happen but this project is not needed- Grant Wanzel and Steve Parcell, professors from Dalhousie’s School of architecture as members of the Willow Tree Group found that ~3000 residents could be added to the Quinpool Road area with in-fill and buildings of between 4-6 storeys. And under the Regional Plan 125 persons/acre can be accommodated in a 3-storey building or in 3 storeys of residential on a commercial base in the Quinpool Corridor.
  • And finally other buildings can be and are being built without controversy because they conform to existing planning rules- a recent example is the 11-storey commercial and apartment building constructed by Ross Cantwell on Gottingen St., built as of right.

Ad hoc decision making that gives preferential treatment to individual developers instead of balancing it with the public interest is not the way to plan for the future of our city.

In 1994 the City of Halifax adopted the Halifax Common Plan which was the outcome of a public consultation process stemming from citizen frustration over ad hoc decisions It committed the city to develop a masterplan for the 235 acre Halifax Common in conjunction with overall planning of the city. The long term management plan was to encompass a vision that ensured protection of the Halifax Common and the recapture and the retention of Halifax Common land. Buildings that were meant to return to the Halifax Common included the CBC TV, the QEHS, the Grace Maternity,

It is a problem that HRM is making this decision about this individual developer’s 25-storey project without first following through on its commitment made with the 1994 Halifax Common plan – that is to complete the master plan and to do it within the context of planning for the city. This building and other proposed high rises under the draft Centre Plan and several individual Development Agreement processes in the works will have a huge and negative impact on the Halifax Common with increased wind, traffic, blocking the western sky and in this case a permanent shadow on afternoon skates on the Oval.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if staff resources and council time was focused on planning for our city? What if the priority was not that the owner of APL meets his desired profit but to complete the master plan for the Halifax Common and the draft Centre Plan?

Thank you,

Peggy Cameron
Co-chair, Friends of Halifax Common

Willow Tree Tower Ignores Planning Process and Common Interest

May 22, 2018

Dear Mayor and Council,
Re case 18966- 25-storey Armco Project

As members of the Friends of Halifax Common we write to ask that you not proceed with further steps towards approving a 25-storey ARMCO building at the corner of Quinpool and Robie.

We remind you that at the January 16th public hearing was for 20-storeys. At that time there were ~1039 submissions against the 20-storey project and dozens of members of the public who spoke against the development at that meeting and previous meetings. Just prior to the public hearing an independent Corporate Research Associate poll indicated that the majority of HRM residents (52%) supported 16-storeys or less with 1/10 of those surveyed supporting the 25-storey option.

We ask that you respect your own on-going planning processes; for the Centre Plan; and for the Masterplan for the Halifax Common. These processes ensure that an integrated plan is developed with a balance of benefits.

We remind you that a few affordable housing units is not a sufficient trade for how much the public is being asked to give up for this project. The residents of the adjacent Parker Street will have their affordable housing units sadly degraded if this project proceeds. The Halifax Common will be affected by winds that degrade the experience of recreational users of the fields. There will be a permanent afternoon shadow during winter skates on the Oval.

Please seek a balance of benefits and turn down this 25-storey option.

Your truly,
Friends of Halifax Common

 

CBC’s Bob Murphy Interviews Councillor Outhit, Joachim Stroink & Peggy Cameron

Please listen to the interview and then let CBC know what you think:
1-888-686-6246 or mainhfx@cbc.ca

HRM Councillor Shawn Cleary has crafted a deal for a new public hearing for a 25-storey proposal for George Armoyen at Robie and Quinpool instead of the 20-storey proposal presented to the public on January 16. Its more bad dealing- 25-storeys may get 10 affordable housing units for 15-years but the Centre Plan would have required 36 affordable housing units for 15-years.

And the public interest and opposition continue to be ignored. A recent opinion poll conducted for the Willow Tree Group by Corporate Research Associates found 52% support 16-storeys or less (26% support 16-storeys; 22% support the current building height of 10-storeys). And only 15% want 20-storeys and 10% want 25-storeys.

Existing regulations to protect the 2 & 3-storey neighbourhood’s affordable housing and Halifax Common by limiting the size, height, mass, density etc. are being ignored. The developer has misused HRM’s bogus on-line survey but HRM staff has not corrected this. Recent public submissions totaled 1038 against and 333 for, but the Clerk’s office counted 851 cards signed by opponents as 1. The common public participate but who is looking out for the common good?

The Draft Centre Plan Harms the Common- (some more)

Disruption to Halifax’s built environment proposed under the Centre Plan is of a scale equal to or greater than that of Cogswell and Africville together. Please attend the open houses (see schedule below) to inform yourself about the Centre Plan and provide feedback.
 
The Centre Plan is ignoring the on-going Halifax Common Master Plan Consultations

The draft Centre Plan threatens public enjoyment of the Halifax Common. The colours indicate increases to permitted height. This will lead to short or long-term demolitions of existing building and replacement with taller ones on and next to the Halifax Common.


and 1994 Halifax Common Plan.  Despite substantial evidence that high-rises are not the way to add density and that they kill liveability HRM continues to plan for high-rises at “Centres” next to (Robie & Quinpool ) or on (Southwest Spring Garden Road) the Halifax Common. And the plan increases heights for most of the perimeter of the Common for “Corridors” (traffic sewers) along Robie, Chebucto to Cunard, and along South Street. 
 
Although urban green space plays a huge role in mitigating the effect of climate change and nature improves mental and physical well-being HRM is not creating any new public green space for the peninsula just more shade and wind that will degrade what we have. Without knowing what the Plan will permit Capital Health or Dalhousie to do on the Halifax Common the Centre Plan is already drafting for continued incursions and enclosure of the Common. Especially troubling is the plan incentivizes short term or eventual demolition of hundreds of buildings and will result in on-going clashes with near-by properties.
 
A sensible solution to densifying the Centre Plan Area, would be to intensify land use development in areas where the character of the city would be the least affected. Examples include the 16 acre Cogswell Exchange, the large parcels of land designated as Future Growth Nodes (shopping malls and Shannon Park) or under-utilized commercial lots, vacant lots and automotive dealerships.
 
Instead the Centre Plan will disrupt many older, established neighbourhoods by increasing height limits along corridors (4-6 storeys), higher residential areas (4-6 storeys) and targeted growth areas (20-storeys). There is no consideration for the social, cultural, environmental, economic advantage of protecting Halifax’s built environment. Nor for protecting present or future opportunities for small-scale local businesses, women-owned businesses, affordability and diversity.
 
For details please see the interactive map.   Note, typical story height is 3.9 meters for offices, 3.1 meters for hotels or residences and 3.5 meters for mixed- use.
 

Open house meetings March 19-April 5:
Mon,  March 19, 6:30 – 8:30 pm: St. Joseph A. McKay Elementary School
Thurs March  22, 6-8 pm, NSCC Ivany (Waterfront) Campus
Mon,  March  26, 1-3 pm and 6 – 8 pm Dalhousie SUB
Wed,  March  28, 1-3 pm and 6 – 8 pm Mic Mac Aquatic Club
Tues  April 3   6 – 8pm Halifax Forum
Thurs April 5  1 – 3 and 6 – 8 pm Dartmouth North Community Centre

HRM’s recently released Centre Plan “Package A,” has plans for designated growth centres, corridors, higher order residential and future growth nodes. There are three documents: a planning strategy, a land-use bylaw and a design manual and a“Big Changes” summary

 

Sheldon MacLeod Interview – Did HRM’s Invalid Survey Fool the Quinpool Biz Assn.?

Listen to Sheldon’s MacLeod’s interview with FHC about misuse of HRM’s invalid survey to push for 25-storeys.

On a matter of conduct FHC calls for a new HRM report on the APL proposal before another public hearing to correct inaccuracies, biases, omissions & false statements – For now the process is meaningless.

At January 16th’s public hearing on APL’s proposed 20-storey highrise, Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Assn. used HRM’s invalid on-line survey to claim that the public support 25 storeys and decided to push for 5 more storeys.  That same invalid survey was used in HRM’s staff 2017 report report to council about proposed Willow Tree highrises as the top reason to recommend Armoyen’s proposed Willow Tree project even though HRM withdrew the 2014 survey because of acknowledged biases and misinformation.
“The online survey generally indicated support for increased heights for both properties.”  Who can you trust?

For more details see FHC’s March 4th Media Release: FOIPOP Recipient Uses Invalid HRM On-line Survey to Promote Height at Willow Tree Site Continue reading

Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association Boycotts Residents

FHC’s executive has written to the Quinpool Rd. Mainstreet District Association to express dismay at their enthusiastic endorsement of APL’s proposed 25-storey project at Robie and Quinpool at the January 16th public hearing.  The Association is aware since the first public meeting that members of the public, largely residents of the neighbourhoods, were unanimously opposed to the project. At that time, the Association’s letter of support was the only one. The public’s opposition has only grown.

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by the Willow Tree Group. APL’s project could not be built under the draft Centre Plan.

Demolition/construction at the new convention centre didn’t work out that well for local downtown businesses. FHC wonders if the Association is really representing their membership; why it supports a density dump of high-rises instead of in-fill or mid-rise developments that could add ~ 3,000 residents  and support more pedestrian activity; and, why it doesn’t respect the existing neighbourhoods and Halifax Common?

Please let any of your favourite Quinpool business owners know that you are concerned if they aren’t respecting their neighbourhoods and recognizing the Halifax Common as an asset that should be protected. Loyalty to businesses on Quinpool Road is a two-way street – many residents will note the Association’s support of APL as a betrayal. Why isn’t the Association working with residents to make a better plan for Quinpool?

Please read FHC’s letter here:2018 FHC Quinpool Road Business Commission 

 

 

Epstein-HRM council should respect the Common, as it has Lake Banook

A man bikes in the rain on the Halifax Common. The Armoury which will begin a restoration valued at $17 million is in the background. (Chronicle Herald photo)

Chronicle Herald

by Howard Epstein
Jan 15, 2018

Harbour East Council (Councillors Streatch, Hendsbee, Karsten, Nicoll and Austin) recently rejected a 15-storey proposal for Graham’s Corner beside Lake Banook, and has put off a follow-up proposal at nine storeys.

All of the reasons offered apply to the full HRM council’s consideration this week of the APL proposal for the Willow Tree intersection beside the Halifax Common. And then some.

In the Banook case, neighbourhood incompatibility played a large role. So, too, for the Willow Tree neighbourhood. Parker, Welsford, Williams, and Compton streets, as well as Robie Street itself, constitute a vibrant residential nook, full of family homes that will be seriously negatively affected if rules are changed to allow a 20-storey building.

The Banook case illustrated exactly why the existing zoning restrictions were put in place. So, too, for the Willow Tree neighbourhood.

At the time, Alderman Nick Meagher, who served on council for 33 years until his retirement in 1995, had the foresight to have height, mass, and density regulations adopted that allow for some intensification of use, but cap it at 10 storeys.

This allowed for protection of the small-scale, densely packed, and stable neighbourhoods and local businesses that have traditionally characterized the overall area.

The Banook case took into account negative impacts on the lake itself as a public amenity. So, too, for the Common and the Willow Tree proposal. They are both important destinations that provide a pleasant visual experience because of the sense of open space and sky.

The Common has a greater diversity of passive and active recreational users and pedestrians. It is used year-round.

The area of The Common that remains as public open space is significantly smaller than Lake Banook and so negative impacts are greater.

The Banook nine-storey proposal would cast shadow in the morning but not in summer when the sun is high. The APL 20-storey proposal is on the western edge of the Common and at least twice the height – it will cast a significant shadow. It will especially shadow the Oval, during afternoon winter skating.

The Banook proposal is for less mass and density than the APL proposal. The Willow Tree proposal would violate at least seven bylaws that are designed to protect public open space and neighbourhoods. Overall, it is too much of an impact.

There are many reasons not to change the planning rules to allow the APL proposal to go forward.

It is not only a question of consistency with the Lake Banook case approach. The draft Centre Plan would not allow the project. It is not a sensible environmental basis for development to allow demolition of a building if that can be avoided.

Density to fill foreseeable needs can be achieved at heights of three to six storeys. Six storeys is all that HRM staff see as appropriate immediately next door, which raises another point of inconsistency of approach.

The 1994 Halifax Common Master Plan is in the process of being revised: adjacent lots should not be on the agenda while that process is at work.

We ask council to leave intact the Municipal Planning Strategy policies for the Willow Tree site, and await the Centre Plan and Common Master Plan processes.

Howard Epstein writes on behalf of Friends of the Halifax Common. He is a retired HRM councillor, MLA and lawyer. He taught land-use planning law at Dalhousie University for many years and is author of Land-Use Planning, a law textbook.

This article was published on Jan 15 in the Chronicle Herald

Rick Howe & FHC Update on APL’s Willow Tree Tower

Last week at Council , District 9’s Shawn Cleary suddenly tried to pass a motion to have a public hearing for “up to 25-storeys” for APL’s Willow Tree tower, not the 20-storeys that HRM Council voted for in March. That’s because APL claims 20-storeys won’t make money. Luckily Cleary’s motion didn’t get a 2/3 majority. Media reports vary on what’s next… APL will work with staff to push for height, sue HRM or renovate the existing building. Eight out of nine Councillors defended the March 2017 vote (including Cleary’s) for a public hearing on 20-storeys. Even at that Council and staff are ignoring citizens’ concerns that 20-storeys brings too much density, mass, wind, shadow, traffic and parking and will harm the neighbourhood, local businesses and green space such as the Halifax Common.

Listen to the interview here:

Tell Council APL’s Proposal Needs to Start Over

Tomorrow (Tuesday Nov 14) APL is coming back to HRM Council arguing that their business case for Willow Tree only works at 25-storeys, not the 20-storeys that Council voted to bring to a public hearing. Please tell your Councillor not to yield to the developer’s pressure.
 
FHC agrees with Councillors Waye Mason and Lindell Smith who understand that APL’s now proposed 25-storey building for the Willow Tree is a new proposal and should start from the beginning of the application process. 
 

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by the Willow Tree Group

This is a fundamental change from the 20-storeys Council had previously voted to recommend go toa public hearing and it should go back to square one, said FHC’S Howard Epstein. And if 6-storeys is the right height for Westwood Develoment’s building next door on the Cruikshank property, there’s no reason why even 20-storeys should have been considered, let alone 25.

It isn’t just about the single issue of the height of the building-it is about the documented reasons and legitimate concerns of the many citizens who’ve participated and the need for more and better consideration of what the location can and should accommodate.
 
Let’s bring a bit of balance in representing the interests of citizens as well as those of developers. The Centre Plan is a draft only form at this time. What it proposes for this area has not been approved by the public or by the Mayor and Council – nor should it be. The RFP for the Masterplan for the Halifax Common has just be awarded.
 
This is an opportunity to do the right thing and start over with a process that benefits the Common not a private developer. Write or call your Councillor, asap!

Enough with the Developer Shock and Awe

Quinpool Road’s proposed future under the Centre Plan (this image does not include rule-breaking developments in process) Click on image to enlarge. Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017) 107; heights added by the Willow Tree Group

In “A nightmare of evocation as Halifax falls to the wrecking ball,” author Larry Haven (The Coast Aug 17) gives a satirical glimpse into why we worry that Halifax is “surely and inexorably being destroyed by rampant developers and an obliging council.

The worst is yet to come. A recent Willow Tree Group essay describes the draft Centre Plan’s proposed future for Quinpool Road, one of several targeted growth areas. Its illustration shown on the right is a mini-look at one of multiple Centre Plan areas where height restrictions will be increased to up to 20 storeys. It doesn’t include the proposed Robie Street Corridor where increased heights of 4-6 storeys all along the western edge of the Halifax Common, slowly killing off 100+ historic buildings so more cars and buses can zoom by. And what’s really missing is the huge number of rule-breaker developments approved in advance of the Centre Plan.

HRM Council recently added ~22 developments to the list. These buildings Continue reading