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  #21  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2013, 3:52 AM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
But the reality is often something different-- it's just conservative locals who hate the possibility of new-- probably young-- people coming to the community.
Fundamentally I think the goal should be to balance the costs and benefits to everybody. On the one hand, we want a good city, and on the other we also need to respect the rights and reasonable expectations of a bunch of different parties.

The problem with these consultations is that they end up being co-opted by small groups of people (150 is considered a lot, but it is likely fewer than the number that would move into these buildings) with narrow interests that may not be aligned with the city as a whole. For example, the homeowners have a financial interest in bringing up property values, and restricting the supply of new housing in their neighbourhood is a great way of doing this.

There's a power imbalance when holding council votes on a case-by-case basis because the well-to-do homeowners are the only ones who can show up and lobby councillors. If you need affordable housing, you may not even know where you'll end up living and you don't have the means to attend meetings or launch NSUARB appeals for hypothetical buildings all over the city (and you wouldn't have standing for the NSUARB anyway). You might be able to attend something like HRM by Design, but in the neighbourhood consultations a lot of voices are not heard, even though some people like to suggest we should just add up the yeas and nays as if we were talking about a public vote.

And of course there's the enormous problem that nobody knows what the result of the popularity contest will be until it's resolved. Can the developer built a 40 storey building? 20? 5? Answering that question takes months or years and costs a lot of money.

Some residents might have good things to say and some councillors might do a good job of counter-balancing the one-sidedness of the situation but it is still a bad system. The municipality would be well-served by continuing to move away from this model.
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  #22  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2013, 11:58 AM
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The language I like is that you need to "sculpt" the city.

Two general planning rules. One - that adjacency is not planning - just because there is a tower does not mean you get to build a tower next door. The second is that you should plan to gradually decrease height to transition from high rise to medium to low.

If you use adjacency for planning then you are not really able to sculpt the city.

If you look at the zoning, this is area was zoned and planned to allow and encourage high rise high density toward South and SGR and Tower, through R3 zoning and height allowances, and then steps down through R2 and R2A into R1.

If this was allowed, this would be one of the few places in Halifax where you go straight from a 10 story, 140' building into a R1, single family home zone which starts in the houses facing Inglis.

And again, this is a high rise low density proposal. 52 units. A medium rise, 4-5 story building on that site would be compatible with the neighbourhood and if it had 700sf units like Southport could put 100-120 units on that site. The neighbours were not against development, they were defending the step down into the lower density and kept saying "why not build a 4-5 story condo building like is just across the street"
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  #23  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2013, 5:48 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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even though some people like to suggest we should just add up the yeas and nays as if we were talking about a public vote.
If you are referring to my comment (which I'm not sure as you referred to "some people"), I wasn't suggesting that. I was simply suggesting that without some actual content from this particular meeting, it's not fair to paint the residents with the typical NIMBY paint brush that "some people" like to wield.

After reading Waye's comments about the actual reasons for which this project was opposed by the current residents of the neighborhood, it seems that they have a legitimate concern.

All I was trying to say is that generalizing public groups through broad assumptions is never a healthy situation and does very little to help understand and solve problems in the world. That's all.
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  #24  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2013, 7:53 PM
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No, it wasn't a passive a aggressive statement about posts here. I was just talking about the way these stories tend to be covered. There's a lot of focus on the numbers and how many were for or against.

The idea of approving things just because similar buildings were approved before is discussed a bit in the Toronto condo "Doc Zone" interviews, linked to in a thread in the Canada section. I agree that this seems like an overly a simplistic way to view development, and Toronto seems to have some problems in terms of creating good neighbourhoods and building enough infrastructure to support new residents.
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  #25  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2013, 9:55 PM
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No, it wasn't a passive a aggressive statement about posts here. I was just talking about the way these stories tend to be covered. There's a lot of focus on the numbers and how many were for or against.
Thanks for clarifying!
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  #26  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 2:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Waye Mason View Post
The language I like is that you need to "sculpt" the city.

Two general planning rules. One - that adjacency is not planning - just because there is a tower does not mean you get to build a tower next door. The second is that you should plan to gradually decrease height to transition from high rise to medium to low.

If you use adjacency for planning then you are not really able to sculpt the city.

If you look at the zoning, this is area was zoned and planned to allow and encourage high rise high density toward South and SGR and Tower, through R3 zoning and height allowances, and then steps down through R2 and R2A into R1.

If this was allowed, this would be one of the few places in Halifax where you go straight from a 10 story, 140' building into a R1, single family home zone which starts in the houses facing Inglis.

And again, this is a high rise low density proposal. 52 units. A medium rise, 4-5 story building on that site would be compatible with the neighbourhood and if it had 700sf units like Southport could put 100-120 units on that site. The neighbours were not against development, they were defending the step down into the lower density and kept saying "why not build a 4-5 story condo building like is just across the street"
Your second planning rule doesn't make sense to me. In fact, most of the great cities in north america, and the world, do quite the opposite: a central planning aim is increasing density, and typically that leads to a rule the move increasingly from low-density low-rise single unit residential to mid-rise high density residential. Sometimes intense densification requires high rise, but not always.

Halifax's problem is that about 80+% of the peninsula are neighbourhoods much like the one we're talking about, where we have low level, low density single unit residential, with no ability to sustain walkable & vibrant mixed-use communities. Instead, everyone has their house, their car, and they drive to Sobeys when they need groceries and the Mall to buy personal items. Because small business can't survive in the neighbourhood, because the density is zilch.

And let me be frank: I just don't believe that the residents are opposing the project because it moves to "low density". That is, if it were a 4-5 story condo development, they'd be cool with it. Both you and I know that is absolute baloney. If this were a mid-rise development like, oh, say... Spirit Place?-- these same people would be out in droves decrying the same thing: height. But really those complaints are about *change* and opposition to it.

And, by the way, on Spirit Place: je me souviens. That vote was Council at its shameful pandering worse, pandering to NIMBY conservatism (which, by the way, further marginalized an already marginalized and discriminated minority group in LBGT seniors).

Anyways, back to the point: It's quite common in other great cities in the world.. let's say Istanbul, for example, where it's quite common to have mid rise and high rise residential sitting among single-unit homes. Everyone recognizes that this is necessary, and that eventually the single-unit homes will have be re-developed into more efficient land usage, that is, mid-rise higher density. The result is pretty incredible communities, filled a mix of residential, with local streets filled with little shops, restaurants, grocery stores, local food markets, cafes, local merchants, etc.

Essentially, everything we *don't* have in Halifax, because of our reactionary conservativism to oppose everything different or new, particularly more height, in our low-density 19th century zoned neighbourhoods with NIMBY hecklers veto'ing everything.

Last edited by counterfactual; Nov 23, 2013 at 2:46 AM.
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  #27  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 4:09 AM
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  #28  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 2:13 PM
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I think if you actually look at the neighbourhood you see that almost no one who came to the public meeting lives in a single family home, they live condos and rentals in converted or new buildings all around there. The public record of the meeting will show that the majority of people who spoke were in favor of a development in scale, and in the neighbourhood that means 4-5 stories the same as the building across the street.

If the Centre Plan was done and the corridor study complete I doubt this debate would be happening, as Wellington south was not being considered for high rise high density.

And again, this is not a high intensity, high density proposal.... 3600 sf units, 52 or 56 units? Just because it is tall does not mean this is dense.
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  #29  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 4:18 PM
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If the Centre Plan was done and the corridor study complete I doubt this debate would be happening, as Wellington south was not being considered for high rise high density.

And again, this is not a high intensity, high density proposal.... 3600 sf units, 52 or 56 units? Just because it is tall does not mean this is dense.
13 storeys is tall?

I don't see this opposition as being about density; it seems to only be about trying to knock around 5 floors off a proposal. I'd be curious to find out how many hope the entire project is cancelled.

Unfortunately, this opposition will lower the density of a proposal that is only modestly dense to begin with. I wonder how much more expensive the units could be as a result?
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  #30  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 4:47 PM
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This is like last years immigrant asking that we close the door behind them and not let anybody else into our country.
It's like the local south end resident saying I have my place in the south end but I don't want anybody else to live here.
It's like the south end driver who thinks nobody else should be allowed to drive down his street because they (not me) will cause traffic.
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  #31  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 5:30 PM
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Halifax's problem is that about 80+% of the peninsula are neighbourhoods much like the one we're talking about, where we have low level, low density single unit residential, with no ability to sustain walkable & vibrant mixed-use communities.
You think? The neighbourhood under discussion here is the densest in Atlantic Canada, with 7,000 people per square kilometre--nearly equal to Toronto's Trinity-Spadina.

And population density on the peninsula is about 3,000 people per square kilometer--not exactly Manhattan, but urban. And since there's so much open space like the Commons, Citadel, and Point Pleasant, etc., the effective density is higher. Outside of the northwest extremities, is there anywhere on the peninsula not walkable to a commercial artery?


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Your second planning rule doesn't make sense to me. In fact, most of the great cities in north america, and the world, do quite the opposite: a central planning aim is increasing density, and typically that leads to a rule the move increasingly from low-density low-rise single unit residential to mid-rise high density residential. Sometimes intense densification requires high rise, but not always.
I kind've agree and disagree with this--densification has definitely become the watchword, but most planning regimes on this continent, and Western Europe, have tried to balance densification with stable neighbourhoods. Not everything is fair game for redevelopment. This has its pluses and minuses, and definitely sometimes there's too much insistence on stability over change. (i.e., in this situation--I'm supportive of this proposal.) But the "natural" densification of housing stock has slowed enormously as urbanization has also slowed in the western world. If you look at growth rates for North American cities, they were growing at 20, 30%, 40% per decade in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Most cities, even our prairie boomtowns, are now growing much slower than that, and the housing stock turnover has also slowed.

I've argued this before on this board, but the notion that the peninsula's houses will or should disappear and be replaced by mid-rise is contrary to economic and planning trends, not just in Halifax, but all over. Again, it's why those brownstones in Brooklyn that I keep referring to are stubbornly sticking around instead of being replaced by avenues of multi-unit buildings, which would technically be more "efficient." People really value the old vernacular housing in North America's urban cores. Gentrification has turned inner-urban neighbourhoods owner-occupied communities, rather than landlord-driven ones, and therefore much less prone to large-scale redevelopment.

This has its pluses: retaining the old architecture and sense of place, an urban intangible which I think is just as important as density. And it has negatives: the housing in question will become more exclusive and pricey.

But it doesn't mean sacrificing density. Instead, intensification is moving away from existing housing stock and being targeted to brownfield sites, under-developed commercial lots, major arterials, etc. There's room for tens of thousands of new peninsular residents just by developing these sites. One day, no doubt, we'll need to look at how to redevelop some of the existing R1 and R2 areas. But that's a long, long, looonng way off.
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  #32  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 7:08 PM
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13 storeys is tall?

I don't see this opposition as being about density; it seems to only be about trying to knock around 5 floors off a proposal. I'd be curious to find out how many hope the entire project is cancelled.

Unfortunately, this opposition will lower the density of a proposal that is only modestly dense to begin with. I wonder how much more expensive the units could be as a result?
13 stories is tall hard up against an R1 zone, a school, and a park. I like having a wall of apartments around a park as much as the next urbanist, but there is a difference between Central Park, separated from the adjacent developments by 8 lanes of traffic and wide sidewalks, and a building sharing a property line with a park.

As for your final point - Southport on Barrington is denser by far and only 6 stories tall, and the units start at $205,000. So instead of theoretical arguments I can point to that development and say "yes in fact 5-6 story buildings ARE being built and ARE affordable, that height does not dictate cost."
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  #33  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 10:36 PM
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You think? The neighbourhood under discussion here is the densest in Atlantic Canada, with 7,000 people per square kilometre--nearly equal to Toronto's Trinity-Spadina.

And population density on the peninsula is about 3,000 people per square kilometer--not exactly Manhattan, but urban. And since there's so much open space like the Commons, Citadel, and Point Pleasant, etc., the effective density is higher. Outside of the northwest extremities, is there anywhere on the peninsula not walkable to a commercial artery?
Fair enough, but let me ask: why might this area be the most dense in Atlantic Canada? Is it because of the R1 zones the NIMBYs say must be defended from the encroachment of this horrible 13 story high rise monster, which will block out the sky, poison the waters, and salt the earth?

...Or because of proximity to SGR area, where you have intense density from high rise and mid rise development? And the surrounding R-3 or R-2A zoning which encourages high rise / high density development.

I would venture a guess that the latter is the answer.

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I kind've agree and disagree with this--densification has definitely become the watchword, but most planning regimes on this continent, and Western Europe, have tried to balance densification with stable neighbourhoods. Not everything is fair game for redevelopment. This has its pluses and minuses, and definitely sometimes there's too much insistence on stability over change. (i.e., in this situation--I'm supportive of this proposal.) But the "natural" densification of housing stock has slowed enormously as urbanization has also slowed in the western world. If you look at growth rates for North American cities, they were growing at 20, 30%, 40% per decade in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Most cities, even our prairie boomtowns, are now growing much slower than that, and the housing stock turnover has also slowed.

I've argued this before on this board, but the notion that the peninsula's houses will or should disappear and be replaced by mid-rise is contrary to economic and planning trends, not just in Halifax, but all over. Again, it's why those brownstones in Brooklyn that I keep referring to are stubbornly sticking around instead of being replaced by avenues of multi-unit buildings, which would technically be more "efficient." People really value the old vernacular housing in North America's urban cores. Gentrification has turned inner-urban neighbourhoods owner-occupied communities, rather than landlord-driven ones, and therefore much less prone to large-scale redevelopment.

This has its pluses: retaining the old architecture and sense of place, an urban intangible which I think is just as important as density. And it has negatives: the housing in question will become more exclusive and pricey.

But it doesn't mean sacrificing density. Instead, intensification is moving away from existing housing stock and being targeted to brownfield sites, under-developed commercial lots, major arterials, etc. There's room for tens of thousands of new peninsular residents just by developing these sites. One day, no doubt, we'll need to look at how to redevelop some of the existing R1 and R2 areas. But that's a long, long, looonng way off.
I agree and disagree with your response.

First off, I don't think Halifax and Nova Scotia, should take slowing urban development trends in other NA or even Canadian cities as a necessary comparator for our own policy trajectories (ie slowing intense densification), simply because NS/Halifax-- by virtue of economic history, city policy, and a federal/provincial politics oriented towards rural NS-- has not experienced the same level of urbanization over the last half century. Halifax and NS has, I think, suffered under far too much emphasis on "stability" and far too little on encouraging investment and development (in the right way, and places too).

Part of the problem you've nailed in passing: pricing. The Brownstones in Brooklyn survive because there are plenty of NY millionaires who pay millions to buy those Brownstones and keep them in the family (ie: not willing to sell). Housing is already too pricey and exclusive in New York, but at least Manhattan has some serious density to go with it.

Halifax... it's currently waaaay too expensive to live on the peninsula. Home prices and higher quality condos and rentals are outside the price range of most. One key way of changing this, is increase supply to bring down prices. That means allowing more density development downtown, even in communities that are situated near or around very dense zones. Yes, in R1 and R2 zones, particularly those like this, which are surrounded by R-3 or R-2A zoning which contemplates higher density development.

FWIW, I am certainly not saying that the "eventual" re-development of R1/R2 zones has to happen over night, but in the next 10 years, these communities will have to be re-zoned, and beyond 10 years, parts will have to be re-developed to allow more height and more intense densification.

We bash HRM for it's lame Regional Plans and then wonder why we cannot achieve even the lame lowballed urban growth targets. This is one of the reasons.

Finally, I *don't* think this city should be making planning decisions based on the input of a bunch of local homeowners will huge conflicts of interest. Is it not time to establish a municipal planning board, independent from council, to make these decisions quickly, efficiently, and in accordance to basic design requirements, not NIMBY whine?
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  #34  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 10:56 PM
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13 stories is tall hard up against an R1 zone, a school, and a park. I like having a wall of apartments around a park as much as the next urbanist, but there is a difference between Central Park, separated from the adjacent developments by 8 lanes of traffic and wide sidewalks, and a building sharing a property line with a park.

As for your final point - Southport on Barrington is denser by far and only 6 stories tall, and the units start at $205,000. So instead of theoretical arguments I can point to that development and say "yes in fact 5-6 story buildings ARE being built and ARE affordable, that height does not dictate cost."
Again, I really, truly, wish the developers would call this bluff, and propose something very much like Southport on this plot.

I will bet you dollars to big, greasy, fattening, donuts, that the NIMBYs would be still out in droves to oppose, just like they were for Spirit Place.

Let's be real. Previously, you said this about the Sourthport development:

Quote:
Coun. Waye Mason (Peninsula South-Downtown) said he thinks the city should encourage mid-rise development “where appropriate.”

“Not everywhere, not in the middle of established residential zones, but certainly on corridors and in industrial lands like (the Southport) land.”
Source: http://thechronicleherald.ca/busines...-not-too-small

In other words, you're fine with the Southport development, but only on "industrial lands". Last time I checked, there weren't any "industrial lands" around Wellington or Inglis.

Are you now saying you'd support a Southport like development in a residential zone? Come on. We all know this is about NIMBYs trying to stop development.

FWIW, just know, I'm a fan of the work you've done as a Councillor, particularly on your clear commitment to downtown investment. But on these kinds of development decisions, I feel like you're being misled into thinking that the NIMBYs speak for the community. They don't. There is a silent majority out here, in your district, who have jobs and don't have time to go whining at every development feedback session.
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  #35  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2013, 10:57 PM
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First off, I don't think Halifax and Nova Scotia, should take slowing urban development trends in other NA or even Canadian cities as a necessary comparator for our own policy trajectories (ie slowing intense densification), simply because NS/Halifax-- by virtue of economic history, city policy, and a federal/provincial politics oriented towards rural NS-- has not experienced the same level of urbanization over the last half century.
We are getting a little far from the topic of this thread, but I agree with this, and I think the idea of looking strictly at other cities with the same population to see how well Halifax is doing is problematic.

The population can go up or down depending on the level of economic development and a bunch of other factors. Had the economy better better during parts of the 20th century, Halifax would probably have turned into a city of 600,000 or 800,000 or 1 million people by 2013. The fact that it was passed by secondary towns in Ontario (that have fewer amenities because they are secondary towns) is a negative consequence of the poor economic climate in the Maritimes.

I think the more revealing thing to look at is the fact that the Maritimes have around 2 million people but no major cities and are missing a bunch of things that you can find in every other region in Canada. Unless Halifax grows, the region will continue to lose out.
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  #36  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2013, 12:37 PM
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We all know this is about NIMBYs trying to stop development.

(...)

FWIW, just know, I'm a fan of the work you've done as a Councillor, particularly on your clear commitment to downtown investment. But on these kinds of development decisions, I feel like you're being misled into thinking that the NIMBYs speak for the community. They don't. There is a silent majority out here, in your district, who have jobs and don't have time to go whining at every development feedback session.
I would like to second this.
I agree with your points -- and I agree that Waye is great!

I hope there are enough councillors to support this project's approval. With a modest boost in population, perhaps there would be more justification to better care for the park to which these midrise buildings are adjacent.
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  #37  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2013, 6:36 PM
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And again, this is not a high intensity, high density proposal.... 3600 sf units, 52 or 56 units? Just because it is tall does not mean this is dense.
I think we might be focusing on the wrong aspect of this development in the argument here. I don't think the number one issue in promoting a great urban core is absolute density, it's also about making sure we have a place for different types of people downtown. Sure, you could fit more people in a smaller building with more units, but there is already TONS of opportunity for young couples and empty nesters to find a place that suits their needs in the downtown. What's missing right now is places for bigger families. Southport is great, and I think we need more of them, but it's only great for a certain segment of the population. If we want to cut down on the sprawl, and if we want to make sure that schools like Gorsebrook continue to be viable, we need to make space for a wider segment of the population.

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Originally Posted by counterfactual
One key way of changing this, is increase supply to bring down prices.
I hear this a lot, and it's been bothering me. I think the idea that building more and bigger buildings will cut down on prices is mixing up cause and effect. My feeling is that the more correct way to look at this is that all these buildings that are going up are only possible BECAUSE of high prices. In Halifax (unlike, say, New York) land prices do not make up a significant part of the cost of building a new building. Most of the cost is in construction, and that doesn't gain much advantage from economies of scale. An extra floor on a building is still an extra floor of concrete and other materials, and it may actually mean an extra level of underground parking which can cause costs to rise exponentially.
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  #38  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2013, 6:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Waye Mason View Post
13 stories is tall hard up against an R1 zone, a school, and a park. I like having a wall of apartments around a park as much as the next urbanist, but there is a difference between Central Park, separated from the adjacent developments by 8 lanes of traffic and wide sidewalks, and a building sharing a property line with a park.

As for your final point - Southport on Barrington is denser by far and only 6 stories tall, and the units start at $205,000. So instead of theoretical arguments I can point to that development and say "yes in fact 5-6 story buildings ARE being built and ARE affordable, that height does not dictate cost."
I completely neglected that the site is adjacent to R-1 on Inglis. That is a good point - although I think you could argue that because there is a park strip between, that does create a height buffer. I'm frankly content with either a 13 storey proposal or something in the low rise 3-5 storey range as well; I'm good with whatever. The height transition is a key idea of planning - if we were dealing with development near an LRT station the most intense density (tallest buildings) are next to the station and then the transition is downward to low density.

I don't get the impression that HRM is taking the people's opinions into account if it's clear that it's a NIMBY perspective. My trouble is that the Regional Centre plan keeps getting talked about but there doesn't seem to be any significant movement forward with it. It needs to move forward, more public engagement and discussion.

One of the things I would suggest is something we did for PlanItCalgary. We had our demographers do analysis on every inner city community for the life of the plan - they had numbers on how much community growth (population) would occur (up and downward - some communities were going to lose population) and job numbers. Then, giant blow ups of the community were done and we did a 'build it' exercise. People were grouped around each photo, with blocks that represented residential, commercial and industrial jobs. Then the group had to work together on how they thought these new people and jobs should be accommodated.

Some groups worked well, others had struggles because of the differing opinions but the results were quite interesting. Some did a lot of highrises, others did more long corridors of low/mid rise but they includes stuff like green energy, windmills, markets...you name it. I think design charettes like that are interesting exercises and I would highly suggest them for the Regional Centre.

I'd also note that when I did up an 'opportunities' map for HRM; I noted this area and that along Victoria as an area that should be encouraged for medium density. Given that the area around Sobeys is restricted by viewplanes, I had visioned this area as mainly low to mid-rise up to about 8 stories multi or mixed use (depending on whether the street had existing commercial). I'd suggest that if the concern is that 13 stories is too high and that the existing high rise should be ignored, then mid-rise may be more appropriate up to about 6 stories. Just because the existing condos are at 4; doesn't mean that there shouldn't be some level of height transition...6 to 8 may be more appropriate with a setback from the R-1 on Inglis through stepbacks on that side.
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  #39  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2014, 5:28 AM
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Dmajackson Dmajackson is offline
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This is moving forward to recommendation from D7&8PAC on Monday.

Case 18565

I can't see this getting approved but stranger things have happened.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2014, 6:09 AM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmajackson View Post
This is moving forward to recommendation from D7&8PAC on Monday.

Case 18565

I can't see this getting approved but stranger things have happened.
Really? Why not?

It seemed like Council was fairly cool with the proposal when it let the proposal move to committee (or whatever).
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