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  #21  
Old Posted Oct 29, 2011, 1:27 PM
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Hmm.. seems like there's not enough "urban neighbourhood" on the peninsula. Areas like Quinpool sidestreets are general neighbourhood which according to the chart does not even support townhouses. Actually some of those side streets have rowhouses (e.g. Jubilee) or apartment houses that are around 100 years old. It seems crazy to me to call this a regional centre and then declare that half of it is off-limits to anything more than detached houses.
The document lists detached houses as the predominant form, with continuous (row) and stacked (probably 3-4 storeys) as possible types (page 26). I feel like the area around Quinpool works pretty well - just needing a "high street," I guess what this classifies as "Urban Corridor" as a point of focus. While I think Quinpool could use some love and attention, I don't think that we should be looking for higher development everywhere around it. There is plenty of room to increase density in the other areas of the peninsula and Dartmouth.
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  #22  
Old Posted Nov 9, 2011, 7:24 PM
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Has there been any progress on this plan in terms of public meetings scheduled or mechanisms to submit comments?
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  #23  
Old Posted Nov 9, 2011, 8:22 PM
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Hmm.. seems like there's not enough "urban neighbourhood" on the peninsula. Areas like Quinpool sidestreets are general neighbourhood which according to the chart does not even support townhouses. Actually some of those side streets have rowhouses (e.g. Jubilee) or apartment houses that are around 100 years old. It seems crazy to me to call this a regional centre and then declare that half of it is off-limits to anything more than detached houses.

The "approved development" lists are interesting and I have seen them before. They mention 3 downtown projects in the pre-approval stage that have not yet been announced. They also have the big list of Barrington heritage renovation projects. Unfortunately, I don't think much if any work has actually happened as a result of the Green Lantern, NFB, or Farquhar grants.
That's what they want... there is a fear of urbanity, even though its what makes cities cities.

This mentality that Halifax is somehow different/better because we don't have alot of development is actually one of the worst aspects of living here.
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  #24  
Old Posted Nov 9, 2011, 9:14 PM
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A lot of people are confused in a pretty common way. They know what they like but they are not sure how to get it, so we get the classic misguided stuff like people asking for acres and acres of empty grass. This has all been exacerbated by the fact that a lot of developments we've gotten in recent decades have been awful, and a lot of planning practices have been wrong.

The way past this I think is a combination of education and credibility. If you have good past work you can say "trust us" when you are doing planning. Hopefully this will come as the city improves and there are more good example of modern buildings that people like.
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  #25  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2011, 4:53 PM
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City’s red tape slowing vital mid-rise development

MARCUS GEE
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 8:44PM EST
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 12:07AM EST

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The thickets of condominium towers growing up in Toronto are changing the face of the city at an astonishing pace. Less remarked on, but potentially as important, is the proliferation of mid-rise buildings on the city’s main streets.

It has been the dream of city planners for at least two decades to build up the “avenues” – streets like Queen, Dundas, Bloor and Eglinton. Outside the downtown core, they have traditionally been lined with two- or three-storey buildings with shops on the ground floor and apartments or offices upstairs. That urban form has remained much the same for decades.

If developers could be persuaded to build up those avenues, replacing old buildings and empty lots with structures of five, six, 10 or 11 storeys, it would do wonders for the city. Toronto is expected to grow by 500,000 people over the next 20 years, reaching a population of more than three million. If the city is to remain livable, planners want as many as possible to live on or near key main streets, close to transit and community services.

...
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle2238946/
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  #26  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2011, 5:03 PM
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Can't argue with that. Toronto can only sprawl for so long. Hopefully lessons being learned from Canada's bigger cities can help Halifax make the correct choices for our next growth period.
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  #27  
Old Posted Nov 18, 2011, 4:02 AM
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Can't argue with that. Toronto can only sprawl for so long. Hopefully lessons being learned from Canada's bigger cities can help Halifax make the correct choices for our next growth period.
Speaking of which, I recall urban planners from Toronto recently speaking at SMU (during late spring, I believe). Essentially, the advice they were trying to convey stressed the importance of urbanisation. Toronto's Greenbelt legislation is something, for example, we can examine.

The speakers warned that if Halifax stays on course with its sprawl, we could end up being another boring Buffalo, New York.
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  #28  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2011, 9:48 PM
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The regional plan 5 year review is looking for people on the community design advisory committee.
Find out here how to apply.
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  #29  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2011, 10:19 PM
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The speakers warned that if Halifax stays on course with its sprawl, we could end up being another boring Buffalo, New York.
Uggghhhh!! Hey! We would have an NHL team though.
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  #30  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2011, 11:09 PM
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The speakers warned that if Halifax stays on course with its sprawl, we could end up being another boring Buffalo, New York.
I would take that with an enormous grain of salt.

It's great to have people from other places come to Halifax and talk about their experiences. Sometimes, however, these people make pronouncements about Halifax without knowing much about the local context. Planners are also particularly bad for presenting "soft" arguments without a lot of facts to back them up.

Halifax isn't completely unique by any stretch but it also doesn't have much in common with Rust Belt cities like Buffalo. The biggest problem in Buffalo and the US Rust Belt is deindustrialization, not suburban sprawl. The most important part of the economy picked up and moved elsewhere. Halifax was barely affected by this trend because it has almost zero manufacturing. It seems like a big stretch to think that continuing the status quo in Halifax will produce the same results, particularly when the urban population is still growing substantially...
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  #31  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 12:06 AM
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I would take that with an enormous grain of salt.

It's great to have people from other places come to Halifax and talk about their experiences. Sometimes, however, these people make pronouncements about Halifax without knowing much about the local context. Planners are also particularly bad for presenting "soft" arguments without a lot of facts to back them up.

Halifax isn't completely unique by any stretch but it also doesn't have much in common with Rust Belt cities like Buffalo. The biggest problem in Buffalo and the US Rust Belt is deindustrialization, not suburban sprawl. The most important part of the economy picked up and moved elsewhere. Halifax was barely affected by this trend because it has almost zero manufacturing. It seems like a big stretch to think that continuing the status quo in Halifax will produce the same results, particularly when the urban population is still growing substantially...

I don't know if Buffalo was chosen as a comparison to Halifax for industrial measure. The comparison, as far as I know, was only along the lines of city planning--and how neither Halifax nor Buffalo puts amazing effort into long term goals. Both cities do have an overwhelming suburbia. Until recently, Halifax seemed on course for continued urban neglect.

But yes, the cities are supported by different economies.
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  #32  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 12:39 AM
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The comparison, as far as I know, was only along the lines of city planning--and how neither Halifax nor Buffalo puts amazing effort into long term goals. Both cities do have an overwhelming suburbia.
To put things into perspective, I've read articles claiming that the vacancy rate for houses in Buffalo is around 25%. In 1950 it had 580,000 people and today it has around 260,000 people.

Maybe better planning might have saved Buffalo but it seems like a long shot, particularly when there are so many attractive US cities and Americans move around so readily.
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  #33  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 2:45 AM
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To put things into perspective, I've read articles claiming that the vacancy rate for houses in Buffalo is around 25%. In 1950 it had 580,000 people and today it has around 260,000 people.

Maybe better planning might have saved Buffalo but it seems like a long shot, particularly when there are so many attractive US cities and Americans move around so readily.
Throw a link at me so I may read these articles, if you have them handy.
And I'm not sure what you're meaning by attractive US cities. They've maintained a decent number of tourist valued areas. Government buildings are usually well kept. Even though I've only seen half a dozen American cities in person, I've read about many more. Their cities are falling apart, while too much money from their municipal and state budgets goes toward rural and suburban infrastructural maintenance.

A majority of Americans don't live in a city, yet work there. So yes, many Americans have long commutes. Americans move around even more readily, thanks to foreclosure.

I may try to find a transcript to the SMU presentation I mentioned. I didn't know a Halifax-Buffalo comparison would spawn this, lol...
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  #34  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 4:53 AM
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The Buffalo metro area has been around 1 million for a few decades. The decline in the city-proper population has been offset by an increase in suburban areas. So yes it does have urban sprawl, however, even the US-side of Niagara Falls is considered to be part of its metropolitan area (20 minutes to the north).

Buffalo has both an NFL & NHL team (they also had an NBA team back in the 1970's and also tried to lure the MLB Montreal Expos to the city in the 1990's). The reason it can support both the NHL and NFL is because of its metropolitan population and its location next to the Canadian border. The NHL team (Buffalo Sabres) draws a significant number of fans from St. Catharines to Hamilton. The NFL team (Buffalo Bills) draws a significant number of fans all the way from Toronto to St Catherines.
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  #35  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 6:01 AM
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Here's a NYT article on Buffalo: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/13/ny...pagewanted=all

This one says 23 percent of housing units are estimated vacant (there are a number of ways to do this -- for example, the USPS keeps track of the 18,000 or so houses there where nobody picks up mail anymore): http://www.buffalonews.com/city/spec...icle107563.ece

Things have gotten worse in the US lately but Buffalo and the Rust Belt were in bad economic shape even before the downturn. Lots of people moved to sunbelt areas which were sprawlier but also more economically successful (though perhaps unsustainable).

I've personally been to Buffalo and Detroit. They're very interesting cities but they don't resemble Halifax much. They're almost as different as it gets, since they were big centres of industry when Halifax was a small government/university/shipping town.

I don't know exactly what this person said in the talk. I just pointed this out because sometimes there are weirdly inapt comparisons between Halifax and other cities. It's usually worth looking at them critically.
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  #36  
Old Posted Dec 10, 2011, 6:15 PM
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Supply and demand in HRM
December 10, 2011 - 4:37am By HOWARD EPSTEIN


Motorists battle their way through rush-hour traffic on Bayers Road. Halifax Chebucto MLA Howard Epstein argues increasing vehicle access to HRM’s Regional Centre would only encourage more urban sprawl. (ERIC WYNNE / Staff)

The marketplace principles of supply and demand can offer a useful way forward for Halifax Regional Municipality as it re-examines its 2006 regional plan.

That plan is a context for land-use decisions to be made by HRM council. It sets out a vision for the next 25 years of development. By its own terms, some review is necessary every five years. That process is now underway, with a target date for completion of September 2012.

HRM staff have suggested to council that only minor tinkering is needed. But there are some serious problems with the plan. Most problematic, it is written in a way that is ambiguous, and thus it allows decisions to be made that are inconsistent with what appear to be the main policies. Another way to think of this is that priorities are not clear enough in the plan.

The main inconsistency is between the policy of a more compact urban form, and the need to accommodate population migration to HRM.

The policy of a more compact urban form means, quite explicitly in the plan, more of the population living on the Halifax peninsula and in Dartmouth inside the Circumferential Highway, the area known overall as the Regional Centre.

The plan sets targets. It says that 25 per cent of the growth should be in the Regional Centre. Probably those numbers should be increased, but even without changes, current statistics show that the 2006 target has not nearly been met.

Most of the growth has been in the suburban areas, much more than the plan contemplates. This has happened because the 2006 plan did not make it explicit that the curtailing of sprawl should take precedence over allowing land development outside the Regional Centre.

This is what has to be changed in the plan review. Supply and demand can do it.

First, increase the supply of housing, especially family housing, in the Regional Centre. This should be done by allowing basement and attic apartments in the existing residential neighbourhoods and extensions at the rear of these houses. This can all be done without changing the height restrictions, so residential neighbourhoods still have their traditional look and feel.

Much of the employment is in the Regional Centre, along with other attractions such as hospitals, universities and government offices. Much can be done to lessen the transportation problems if people can live closer to where they want to go.

Second, restrict the supply of housing outside the Regional Centre. This means not allowing more big subdivisions or apartment buildings there until the population targets for the Regional Centre are being met. The sequencing of development is a standard land-use planning tool.

Third, increase the supply of employment nodes in the existing suburbs. Many already exist, but more are needed. This is necessary to reduce the demand for wider roads to take more cars into the Regional Centre.

This does not mean abandoning efforts to develop the central business district (CBD). But hard choices have to be made as to what the CBD is meant to be, as compared with the business parks, the shopping centres and the strip malls that council has allowed to proliferate.

Fourth, increase the supply of allowable home-based businesses. With electronic communication, many more people can work from their homes. Zoning rules should accommodate a lot of that.

Fifth, do not increase the supply of transportation corridors to the Regional Centre. That would only serve to increase the demand to create sprawl, which the original 2006 plan saw — correctly — as very undesirable.

What I have in mind is not to allow the private marketplace on its own to decide what HRM will look like. Unfortunately, that is essentially what the 2006 plan has allowed.

Council seems to have overlooked that it has a major role to play in guiding the private marketplace. It can do this, while not micro-managing, by taking seriously its job as overall steward of land use, and by keeping in mind the tools of supply and demand.

Howard Epstein is MLA for Halifax Chebucto, and a former member of Halifax city council and Halifax regional council.
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  #37  
Old Posted Dec 10, 2011, 6:27 PM
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Originally Posted by -Harlington- View Post
Supply and demand in HRM
December 10, 2011 - 4:37am By HOWARD EPSTEIN

First, increase the supply of housing, especially family housing, in the Regional Centre. This should be done by allowing basement and attic apartments in the existing residential neighbourhoods and extensions at the rear of these houses. This can all be done without changing the height restrictions, so residential neighbourhoods still have their traditional look and feel.
What a wingnut.

Yeah this is the best way to increase the population and density on the pennisula. Let's move people into basements and attics. God forbid the private sector put people to work building high rise condos and apartments.

These commies need to head back to the motherland.
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  #38  
Old Posted Dec 10, 2011, 7:50 PM
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So it looks like Epstein knows just enough about economics to be dangerous, as the saying goes. I wonder if he would be interested in moving his family into a basement.

Basement and attic apartments are not "family housing". They're mostly sought after by students, and South End NIMBYs already fight against adding units to existing properties. There might be some gains from these apartments or laneway houses in certain areas but they would not make much difference and they are definitely not going to stand in for thousands of new apartments constructed over the years in the suburbs.

Basically this article seems like a half-baked attempt to sell a self-serving agenda with little in the way of fact to back it up.
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  #39  
Old Posted Dec 10, 2011, 8:45 PM
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Well, his comment about basement and attic apartments makes some sense - maybe not for families but certainly for students and others who want to live with 2 or 3 roommates. Consider the area between Coburg and Chebucto - many "single family houses" have been converted to flats, so many houses have as many as 10 residents instead of 4 or 5. This is a much more efficient use of space and probably more acceptable than razing half of the 1900-era houses and replacing them with actual apartments or condos. I agree that larger residential structures will have to be built elsewhere, but since this area in particular is supposed to stay lowrise, subdividing individual houses would probably be the simplest way to increase density.
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  #40  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2011, 1:08 AM
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Der Kommissar has decreed it! Ve must all moof into bazements and attix to serve der fatherland!! Next ve must all take up pix and shuvels and dig up ze evil Bayerz Road to save der core from ze evil suburbanitz!!!
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