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  #41  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 2:20 PM
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The only option that might save the BMO / Maritime Life Building is to give a tax exemption for the portion it occupies which would still take time. Too little too late.

A future option would be to highly tax the space where a heritage building was demolished.
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  #42  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 3:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
Treating HRMxD as tablets brought down from the mountaintop is not the way to deal with planning disputes, especially those unforeseen in the plan. It's a good rulebook, overall, but there have been a lot of controversies stemming from it. The fact that we're going to permit such a massive blunder in the name of upholding HRMxD suggests strongly that the plan needs some tweaks.
Halifax's planning rules are very weak on heritage preservation. This scenario is going to keep playing out again and again, with some victories and a lot of losses, until the rules are fixed. Developers have contemplated demolishing maybe 1/4 of the old commercial building stock in the city over the last few years and there is little to stop them from tearing down even registered heritage buildings.

Unfortunately I think HRM by Design has made the problem of heritage preservation much worse, because approvals have been streamlines only for the parts of the city with the most heritage buildings. It is much easier to tear down a heritage building on Spring Garden Road and replace it with something like the Doyle Block then it is to build on an empty lot farther out.

The remaining parking lots downtown could help alleviate this pressure for a while but a lot of them are owned by the city and province and are effectively off the market. This is another big problem downtown, although it's gotten a bit better lately since the city has changed its tune on the Clyde Street lots.

The viewplanes force new development to consume more land, adding to the problem even more.

We can get upset at developers, and I think some of them could do better, but that doesn't get at the root cause of the problem, poor planning rules, and isn't going to lead to a solution. Finger wagging at developers is the abstinence education of municipal politics. It doesn't work.
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  #43  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 3:56 PM
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According to Waye on twitter, there's no appetite to pursue this because it would mean opening up all the HRMxD viewplanes to debate and other developers would start wanting more height.

Density bonus is also problematic because, well, complicated, but basically because NIMBYism everywhere else.

I'm convinced there must be some compromise that's reachable without throwing everything into disarray though. I think the only thing left is to email Waye and the mayor and the chief planner and be like "Fix this."


Clearly Mason has no desire to do anything that alters the sacred HRMxD.

This is ridiculous on many levels - HRMxD is badly flawed as many have already seen in previous instances. Council clearly has the ability to fix a problem. A number of amendments have already been made over the years. But this is consistent with his previous position on other projects like the one near the Citadel up by Sackville a couple of years ago that had a ridiculously restrictive height limitation on it. He refused to do anything there either. Perhaps this is his way of retribution for the Wellington St proposal he opposed and lost out on.

This simply shows the folly of detailed planning tomes like HRMxD, and the nature of the councillor for the area.
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  #44  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 4:03 PM
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This simply shows the folly of detailed planning tomes like HRMxD, and the nature of the councillor for the area.
If you read Andy Fillmore's comments on HRMxD, or comments from many other planners, they mention time and again that they intend to create "living documents" that should be updated as needed, not tomes to be consulted and interpreted by high priests.

"If we fixed this problem with it, we'd have to fix all the others" is not a great argument.
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  #45  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 4:06 PM
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I'm not gonna step up to defend Westwood, because I think that if they were better developers this wouldn't even be an issue. But, I do think they'd make good on a compromise if they were given the height elsewhere on the block.

Treating HRMxD as tablets brought down from the mountaintop is not the way to deal with planning disputes, especially those unforeseen in the plan. It's a good rulebook, overall, but there have been a lot of controversies stemming from it. The fact that we're going to permit such a massive blunder in the name of upholding HRMxD suggests strongly that the plan needs some tweaks.
I think Westwood is being unfairly criticized here (not necessarily by you but by the post you responded to, which I tried to multi-quote but could not get to work). They are not the architects of dumb planning rules. They are acting in a responsible manner, more so than, IMO, the councillor for the area. Westwood is not a charity. The realities of financing and returns to owners are just that - realities. If HRM wants to protect a view of the grain elevators or one of the top of the Citadel for the latte-sipping patrons of the library that is within their power. But they cannot also expect developers to then take less of a return on their own risky investments just to accommodate that whim when they propose developments that are within the rules that HRM created. HRM cannot have it both ways - especially when there is a possible solution that would satisfy everyone except for the handful that worship at the altar of HRMxD.
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  #46  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 5:03 PM
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Though I'm being indirectly taken to task for the frustration I directed towards the developer in a previous post, keep in mind that there are other projects in this area where the developer could have just as easily leveled the heritage property that was getting in the way of their new building, but for whatever reason chose to incorporate at least the façade of the building that they were replacing. Some actually chose to maintain more than just the façade and apparently made money from it, as they are still in business.

However, before you completely misunderstand the point of my post, keep in mind the statement that gives a nod to the fact that developers have to run a business whose main goal is making money - and as such I understand the choice to make it the easiest way possible, even if I don't applaud it.

The real purpose of the post, as others have also mentioned is that our 'rules' are too weak. If we assume that 'a developer' will always choose the simplest, quickest, most cost-effective way to put up a building, then we must have strong rules to control what they can and can't do regarding heritage properties. Obviously this tact works for viewplanes, so one has to assume that our elected officials also don't value the heritage of the buildings any more than some developers.

So please understand that I think (and have always thought) that the fault lies with our ridiculous lack of heritage protection, but that the developer can have a hand in it if he/she has an interest.

As a P.S., perhaps I overstated my opinion of the project going up on the block. Maybe POC was a little strong, but it certainly doesn't inspire me.

Note: all above and previous posts by me are just my opinion... your mileage may vary.
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  #47  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2016, 5:09 PM
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Great points above, especially on the `living document`nature of HRMxD.

Seriously, I`ve been expressing this on twitter all morning to various folks online, including Waye, and the consensus is strongly, `c`mon, we have to TRY.`

If everyone on this thread wrote a missive to the councillor and mayor, it couldn`t hurt.
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  #48  
Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 5:55 AM
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HRMxD coming under fire here.

I am generally a strong supporter of HRMxD. It has been a *momentous* improvement over the previous regime, that has helped shepherd in a period of relative development certainty and helped facilitated a lot of the current "turn around" with development downtown. The fact that it was hated by the Heritage and STV collectives is evidence, by itself, on how much of a benefit it has been.

That said, as a compromise, it has shortcomings. It should have done more to promote/perserve heritage. IMHO, it should have been an opportunity to takedown the stupid view planes, but the thing almost failed to pass anyways, due to strong NIMBY opposition, even without any further controversial features we're heaping onto it retrospectively.

To challenge, is that if you start creating exceptions to HRMxD (like the Skye Tower), then that leads to everyone trying to fit into the exception, leading to a lot of uncertainty, litigation, challenges, defeating the purpose of good planning and development certainty.

However, I completely forgot: isn't there an exception to HRMxD height limits-- policy 89?

Here it is:

Quote:
Policy 89 Notwithstanding the forgoing policies, where a proposed amendment addresses unforeseen circumstances, or is deemed by Council to confer significant economic, social, or cultural benefits to HRM beyond the bonus zoning provisions of this Plan, such as a new downtown convention centre or other significant cultural infrastructure, such amendments may be considered by Council at any time regardless of the schedule for reviews."
See: https://www.halifax.ca/council/agend...90324cow3i.pdf

The YMCA was granted an HRMxD exemption under this small exception.

Couldn't Chedrawe ask for a Policy 89 exemption for height on that side of the development so he can preserve Maritime Life and also the view from the new Library = significant social/cultural benefits?

Could also argue this was "unforeseen circumstances" as the Central Library wasn't built at the time of the HRMxD...
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  #49  
Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 7:41 PM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
HRMxD coming under fire here.

I am generally a strong supporter of HRMxD. It has been a *momentous* improvement over the previous regime, that has helped shepherd in a period of relative development certainty and helped facilitated a lot of the current "turn around" with development downtown. The fact that it was hated by the Heritage and STV collectives is evidence, by itself, on how much of a benefit it has been.

That said, as a compromise, it has shortcomings. It should have done more to promote/perserve heritage. IMHO, it should have been an opportunity to takedown the stupid view planes, but the thing almost failed to pass anyways, due to strong NIMBY opposition, even without any further controversial features we're heaping onto it retrospectively.

To challenge, is that if you start creating exceptions to HRMxD (like the Skye Tower), then that leads to everyone trying to fit into the exception, leading to a lot of uncertainty, litigation, challenges, defeating the purpose of good planning and development certainty.

However, I completely forgot: isn't there an exception to HRMxD height limits-- policy 89?

Here it is:



See: https://www.halifax.ca/council/agend...90324cow3i.pdf

The YMCA was granted an HRMxD exemption under this small exception.

Couldn't Chedrawe ask for a Policy 89 exemption for height on that side of the development so he can preserve Maritime Life and also the view from the new Library = significant social/cultural benefits?

Could also argue this was "unforeseen circumstances" as the Central Library wasn't built at the time of the HRMxD...
So what you're saying is that the developer could likely have a way to preserve the Maritime Life building as part of the development if he cared to do so?

Interesting...
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  #50  
Old Posted Apr 1, 2016, 8:43 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
So what you're saying is that the developer could likely have a way to preserve the Maritime Life building as part of the development if he cared to do so?

Interesting...
And if the city accepts such a thing. Chedrawe has just this week mused openly about retaining the Maritime Life building in exchange for more height.

But the sense I got from Waye on Twitter is that he doesn't want to entertain that notion--which I understand if it means opening the can of worms that is spot zoning. But if this Policy 89 is actually an allowance within HRMxD that could make this possible without opening things up to every developer who wants to exceed height limits, I think it could work. Obviously you'd get a bit of short-term whining from other developers about special treatment, but screw it: This clearly demonstrates positive cultural impact, as the policy is meant to encourage. And while we might have a bit of whining today, we'll still have the building 10, 20, 30 years from now.
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  #51  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 12:33 AM
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Waye is up for re-election and all his comments should be viewed in that context. His public position may not reflect what he is willing to accept and/or agree with.
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  #52  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 1:03 AM
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Waye is up for re-election and all his comments should be viewed in that context. His public position may not reflect what he is willing to accept and/or agree with.
I dunno, I have a lot of respect for the guy and I try not to be too cynical anyway.

Besides, I think most people, except for the most die-hard viewplane zealots, would see the value of the compromise, and some people would be more inclined to support him. Don't forget there are a lot of people in the city and in that ward who think the viewplanes are excessively restrictive.
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  #53  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 1:59 AM
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And if the city accepts such a thing. Chedrawe has just this week mused openly about retaining the Maritime Life building in exchange for more height.

But the sense I got from Waye on Twitter is that he doesn't want to entertain that notion--which I understand if it means opening the can of worms that is spot zoning. But if this Policy 89 is actually an allowance within HRMxD that could make this possible without opening things up to every developer who wants to exceed height limits, I think it could work. Obviously you'd get a bit of short-term whining from other developers about special treatment, but screw it: This clearly demonstrates positive cultural impact, as the policy is meant to encourage. And while we might have a bit of whining today, we'll still have the building 10, 20, 30 years from now.
I think the key is to frame this as an exceptional case. HRM did this with the YMCA (the last Policy 89 exception) based on the fact of the public benefit unique to what the YMCA can offer.

Similarly, the key thing to tie an exception here would be the new Central Library, which is arguably a brilliant new gem and important public facility, of greater importance than the YMCA by comparison.

Allowing an exception for heritage preservation, but most importantly, the view from the Citadel, seems to me to be a nice way to provide an exception, BUT not open any "can of worms". Heritage preservation alone, for example, couldn't allow this exception.

Rather, you make it sui generis: this is about the library. A special unique case, and nothing else. Of course, it's also about saving Maritime Life building, but you can't say it to leave pandora's box closed.
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  #54  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 2:56 AM
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I dunno, I have a lot of respect for the guy and I try not to be too cynical anyway.

Besides, I think most people, except for the most die-hard viewplane zealots, would see the value of the compromise, and some people would be more inclined to support him. Don't forget there are a lot of people in the city and in that ward who think the viewplanes are excessively restrictive.
Twitter is not a politicians friend.
In my opinion he should support the possible design change or just say nothing. There is no middle ground.
Other developers may try to make a similar plea in the future but that should not stand in the way of a reasonable one-off change in the rules that would satisfy public interest and demonstrate sensible flexibility; that is what we expect politicians to do.
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  #55  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 3:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
I dunno, I have a lot of respect for the guy and I try not to be too cynical anyway.

Besides, I think most people, except for the most die-hard viewplane zealots, would see the value of the compromise, and some people would be more inclined to support him. Don't forget there are a lot of people in the city and in that ward who think the viewplanes are excessively restrictive.
Most people don't really know what the viewplanes are anyway. If this issue is framed in terms of modifying the building to preserve views from the library and the Maritime Life building then 99% of people will be in favour of it.

(Unfortunately, the 1%, or 0.01%, tends to get a lot of news coverage for whatever reason.)
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  #56  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 12:16 PM
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Most people don't really know what the viewplanes are anyway. If this issue is framed in terms of modifying the building to preserve views from the library and the Maritime Life building then 99% of people will be in favour of it.

(Unfortunately, the 1%, or 0.01%, tends to get a lot of news coverage for whatever reason.)
While I agree with the opinion that the proposed compromise would make sense, it pains me to support it too enthusiastically since the main complainers about saving the library view are the Haivens and Peggy Cameron, who are a bunch of dangerous anti-development loons. I would not want to give them anything they could twist into a claim of a victory.
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  #57  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 1:22 PM
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While I agree with the opinion that the proposed compromise would make sense, it pains me to support it too enthusiastically since the main complainers about saving the library view are the Haivens and Peggy Cameron, who are a bunch of dangerous anti-development loons. I would not want to give them anything they could twist into a claim of a victory.
Peggy Cameron is part of STV though, so I doubt she'd support anything that would endanger any of the viewplanes (as the compromise/Policy 89 solution would).

I imagine no matter what happens, the Peggy Camerons out there will stridently oppose the project and any compromise, even if that compromise would be better for the city. Which basically guarantees their opposition to futility, but that's been the case for some time now, I guess...
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  #58  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 4:28 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
While I agree with the opinion that the proposed compromise would make sense, it pains me to support it too enthusiastically since the main complainers about saving the library view are the Haivens and Peggy Cameron, who are a bunch of dangerous anti-development loons. I would not want to give them anything they could twist into a claim of a victory.
That is what is called "cutting off your nose to spite your face".

Regardless of who's ego it may bolster, I hope that there is some possibility that this will turn out alright.
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  #59  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 6:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
While I agree with the opinion that the proposed compromise would make sense, it pains me to support it too enthusiastically since the main complainers about saving the library view are the Haivens and Peggy Cameron, who are a bunch of dangerous anti-development loons. I would not want to give them anything they could twist into a claim of a victory.
Why do these people get so much attention? Are they best friends with the editors at the Herald or something? They're often treated as urban planning experts, but their opinions on these issues shouldn't really carry more weight than any other members of the public.
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  #60  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2016, 11:09 PM
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February 4 2016 Library Board meeting minutes Page 4 :
" The proposed Westwood development slated for the comer of Spring Garden Road and Queen Street across from the Halifax Central Library, has raised concern in the public as its height may obstruct the views from the library. As municipal planning is outside the purview of the Library Board and staff, the matter will be left to HRM to resolve. "
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