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  #181  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2019, 3:33 AM
Hali87 Hali87 is offline
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I agree it's tough to reconcile the height limit and FAR concepts the way they're presented (in separate maps, etc). Hopefully they will release some renderings modeling the different options. The way I understand it is that the maximum number of floors would be the FAR divided by the fraction of the lot that is covered (assuming consistent floorplates). So a building that takes up 1/3 of a lot with an FAR of 8.0 would have ~24 floors, plus or minus a few depending on things like podiums and setbacks. This is really hard to visualize the way it's presented because the lots are all different shapes and sizes and there's no map showing both the height limits and FARs together.

Overall it's true that it's not as simple as saying that lots that were maxed at 20 in the previous version are now maxed at 27 [edit: 90m limits, then subject to FAR, so whatever can be done with that floor-wise] - they're maxed at approximately the same density and then there is some leeway in terms of height depending on how bulky the tower is. Basically it builds in a consideration of the building's overall shape into the process so that we don't end up with too many (more) wide slabs. In cases where the height limit is 90m and the FAR is 8, the 90m can only be achieved with a very slim tower or extensive setbacks. At least that's my interpretation of it.

Last edited by Hali87; Apr 14, 2019 at 4:12 AM.
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  #182  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2019, 6:37 AM
Querce Querce is offline
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Worth pointing out that the maps say only D, CEN-2 and CEN-1 zones are subject to maximum FAR and a maximum height of 90 metres, and CEN-2, COR, HR-2 and HR-1 are only subject to maximum height.

Also, there is an interactive map so you can look at any lot and find out what its FAR/maximum height is
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  #183  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 12:59 AM
IanWatson IanWatson is offline
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I've just done my first read through of the documents and am very happy with them. We can argue about heights and FARs and all of that, but the reality is that Centre Plan is a HUUUUUUUGE improvement over the current planning framework(s). Just as the DT Halifax Plan isn't perfect, but spurred a ton of development, I think we'll see the same thing in the rest of the Regional Centre. No more 7-year fights for modest residential develops.
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  #184  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 2:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanWatson View Post
I've just done my first read through of the documents and am very happy with them. We can argue about heights and FARs and all of that, but the reality is that Centre Plan is a HUUUUUUUGE improvement over the current planning framework(s). Just as the DT Halifax Plan isn't perfect, but spurred a ton of development, I think we'll see the same thing in the rest of the Regional Centre. No more 7-year fights for modest residential develops.
It is not perfect but Halifax does well with this type of planning compared to a lot of cities. In fact it's hard to find a city in North America that is as old as Halifax but as flexible in permitting new development. Most are either Sunbelt type sprawlers or trapped in NIMBY amber.

The right question to ask isn't whether the Centre Plan is perfect, it's whether it's better than the status quo. The unpredictable delays make the status quo very bad. The unknown delays and arbitrary changes of the old system are a much bigger deal than midrise vs. highrise height limits.

That being said I do think the height limits in the CDD areas are too low. 20 m does not make sense around the West End malls (pure commercial areas with good transit connections; the type of areas that have large towers in other cities) or on the old Pierceys store (which is right across from blocks with houses on them that are zoned for 90 m). But then again the 90 m areas around the North-Almon area are probably a bigger planning "win", while there is a lower likelihood of community opposition to bumping up heights on the large commercial sites.
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  #185  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 2:50 AM
Phalanx Phalanx is offline
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The heights at King's Wharf seem a little on the low side. Are the existing proposals grandfathered in? Or am I misreading something?
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  #186  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 5:16 AM
Querce Querce is offline
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From the planning strategy:

Quote:
The Land Use By-law shall establish the King’s Wharf Special Area (KW) where
development may only be permitted in accordance with the development agreement
approved for these lands prior to the adoption of this Plan.

Development agreements or amendments to development agreements for King’s
Wharf that have been received by the Municipality on or before September 5,
2029, may be considered by Council in accordance with the policies in effect at the time
Council provides notice of intention to adopt this Plan.
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  #187  
Old Posted Jun 20, 2019, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
That being said I do think the height limits in the CDD areas are too low. 20 m does not make sense around the West End malls (pure commercial areas with good transit connections; the type of areas that have large towers in other cities) or on the old Pierceys store (which is right across from blocks with houses on them that are zoned for 90 m). But then again the 90 m areas around the North-Almon area are probably a bigger planning "win", while there is a lower likelihood of community opposition to bumping up heights on the large commercial sites.
Just an FYI, the CDD zone's 20 meters is just a place holder to apply to any as-of-right activities that might go on in the future growth nodes. Height could go higher in these zones and will be worked out through future development agreements. Dartmouth Cove, for example, has already had extensive planning done about how the massing on the site will work and it definitely won't be 20 meters in the middle where there is good separation from existing neighbourhoods and the water. Policy statement making it clear that 20 meters is a sort of placeholder for the CDD zone, as that was always the intent, is being added to the final draft.
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  #188  
Old Posted Jun 20, 2019, 1:32 PM
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Keith P. Keith P. is offline
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I thought the whole intent of this massive exercise in planner self-gratification was to get rid of development agreements and the ensuing NIMBY debates, public hearings associated histrionics, and the endless delays and cost of having to go through that absolutely awful process? Now we learn that in fact they are being encouraged??? WTH?
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  #189  
Old Posted Jun 20, 2019, 2:10 PM
IanWatson IanWatson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
I thought the whole intent of this massive exercise in planner self-gratification was to get rid of development agreements and the ensuing NIMBY debates, public hearings associated histrionics, and the endless delays and cost of having to go through that absolutely awful process? Now we learn that in fact they are being encouraged??? WTH?
There are a couple of large areas where prescriptive design requirements aren't appropriate. These are mainly large areas where new roads will be required. They're also areas with few existing neighbours, so hopefully DAs in those situations will be more about flexibility to design the site appropriately, rather than about opportunities for opposition.

These sites are relatively few in relation to the size of the Centre Plan area. They include Penhorn Mall, Shannon Park, and a couple of other sites.
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  #190  
Old Posted Jun 20, 2019, 2:12 PM
IanWatson IanWatson is offline
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Did anyone go to the continuation of Committee of the Whole's Centre Plan discussion, held yesterday?

All the reporters were there on Tuesday, so I was able to follow along on Twitter, but it looks like nobody was tweeting Wednesday's discussion. I'd love to know generally what changes Committee of the Whole made.
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  #191  
Old Posted Jun 20, 2019, 3:30 PM
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Originally Posted by IanWatson View Post
There are a couple of large areas where prescriptive design requirements aren't appropriate.
A height limit isn't a prescriptive design requirement though. If you set a 500 m height limit, or no height limit, developers will choose whatever height they want for their project.

Requiring DAs over 20 m but not under 20 m on the other hand is distortionary; it's an incentive to develop shorter buildings.
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  #192  
Old Posted Jun 20, 2019, 7:18 PM
Querce Querce is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanWatson View Post
Did anyone go to the continuation of Committee of the Whole's Centre Plan discussion, held yesterday?

All the reporters were there on Tuesday, so I was able to follow along on Twitter, but it looks like nobody was tweeting Wednesday's discussion. I'd love to know generally what changes Committee of the Whole made.
They pushed forward some of the public hearings so they could finish the Centre Plan discussion on the one day.
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  #193  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2019, 11:14 AM
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Interesting commentary on the failings of the Centre Plan:

https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/bu...e-ugly-363100/

Pretty consistent with what we have seen in the discussions here. Some snippets:

Quote:
The plan fails in several ways to support its sweeping changes with fact, predictability or rigour. One example: the reasoning behind the plan’s 90-metre height restriction across large swaths of the city is not backed by science or evidence. It is factually inexplicable and caters only to the small percentage of the city’s population that consistently protests height with no rationale, rhyme nor reason.

I asked the question, if the CEO of IBM said, ‘I want to bring 750 jobs to Halifax, but I need a building that is 40 storeys or approximately 120 metres tall,’ would they be granted an exception? The response was a resounding, 'not without special approval of Council, Community Councils, etc.' What message does this send to investors? Developers? Our young people who we are desperately trying to retain? Not to mention the economic stimulus that this province needs to be sustainable!

Scale matters and logic must be applied. Plans like the Centre Plan must be evidence-based rather than cater to conjecture and the opinion of a vocal few. There needs to be space for reasonable discussion when an inevitable exception comes to the city that is clear in process, timelines and cost.
And this:

Quote:
The Halifax peninsula is land-scarce. Generally, it is more cost-effective to build higher, allowing for greater flexibility in pricing and design. Height inevitably allows for more affordable square footage housing options. When developers are asked to reduce height, while simultaneously being asked for more landscaping, major setbacks, etc. it adds to the cost of the project. These added costs challenge investors to make projects feasible and often reduces the capacity to meet affordable housing targets. More flexibility and incentives, for example, to designate existing stock and tie it to new construction, could be considered. The density options proposed under this plan could potentially lead to even more urban sprawl, which we all know creates further problems.

Economically, we are in a period of prolonged and historically low borrowing costs. This has significantly contributed to the investments we have seen over the past decade. The Centre Plan does not consider borrowing rate increases in the future. This is troubling as a review will not take place for a decade from its adoption. As we all know, the rapid pace of technology, climate change, etc. that we are witnessing is unprecedented. A decade is far too long to redress the unintended consequences of flawed plans and policy. We need a review in as few as three years along with a joint committee of industry, city staffers and residents to oversee, track and measure the impacts of the plan. There needs to be a mandate to correct unintended outcomes and build on successful ones.

Regardless, the likes of Mason, Austin, Cleary and the planning cabal within the bureaucracy are jamming this thing through, and the rest of Council is just rolling over.
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  #194  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2019, 3:08 AM
Querce Querce is offline
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Quote:
I asked the question, if the CEO of IBM said, ‘I want to bring 750 jobs to Halifax, but I need a building that is 40 storeys or approximately 120 metres tall,’ would they be granted an exception? The response was a resounding, 'not without special approval of Council, Community Councils, etc.' What message does this send to investors? Developers? Our young people who we are desperately trying to retain? Not to mention the economic stimulus that this province needs to be sustainable!
Oh no! If someone wants to build a tall building here, now there's no way to build it except for the way that all the buildings for the last 5 years have been built!

Oh no! If someone wants a special exception, there's no way to get it except to go through the process to the a special exception!

Last edited by Querce; Oct 13, 2019 at 5:54 AM.
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  #195  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2019, 11:05 AM
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Oh no! If someone wants to build a tall building here, now there's no way to build it except for the way that all the buildings for the last 5 years have been built!

Oh no! If someone wants a special exception, there's no way to get it except to go through the process to the a special exception!
You missed the money quote: "The plan fails in several ways to support its sweeping changes with fact, predictability or rigour. One example: the reasoning behind the plan’s 90-metre height restriction across large swaths of the city is not backed by science or evidence. It is factually inexplicable and caters only to the small percentage of the city’s population that consistently protests height with no rationale, rhyme nor reason."

That is spot-on and perhaps the single biggest flaw among many with this overly convoluted document.
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  #196  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2019, 12:24 PM
IanWatson IanWatson is offline
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But how could it be backed up by science?? It's not like a 40-storey tower is "scientifically better" than a 15-storey tower. There is no science of tower height.
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  #197  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2019, 12:52 PM
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But how could it be backed up by science?? It's not like a 40-storey tower is "scientifically better" than a 15-storey tower. There is no science of tower height.
So what you are saying is that it is arbitrary?
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  #198  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2019, 1:49 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I think the process has both objective and subjective elements, so his assertion that all decisions need to be backed up (only) by science and evidence is a bit of a red herring. Almost nothing in city planning is solely science or fact-based, as politics, opinion, aesthetics, etc., highly factor into everything.

Makes sense, though, as people are also not entirely driven by logic, otherwise we would all dress exactly the same, whichever mode of dress were deemed to be the most logical by proven facts. We would all live in the same type of building, the most logical one, proven by science. We would probably not engage in leisure activities as they do not make sense logically, etc. etc.

I don't disagree with most of his points, but his argument does seem a little skewed by his professional position.
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  #199  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2019, 4:59 PM
IanWatson IanWatson is offline
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So what you are saying is that it is arbitrary?
No, it's values-based. Cities are super complex reflections of human culture. Sure, there are many quantitative aspects to these exercises. Things like looking at demand forecasts compared to potential supply (which was done as part of Centre Plan), servicing capacity, and considering what types of floor plates and such are most financially-efficient (though it's worth noting that this changes as technology changes).

But all of that is eclipsed by the context of "what is the kind of city you want to live in? What are your values?" It's messy. And it's often contradictory ("I want a city that's affordable. Oh, but don't build anything new."). Humans are messy.

There's too much push to bring "science" to city building*. There's very little that's scientific about it. But we live in a society where you "can't possibly be right unless you have the peer-reviewed studies to back it up" (never mind that there's no universal "right"). All that results in is an industry of trying to create a science that can't possibly exist. Listen to the New Urbanist people and they'll tell you they've created the science of building the perfect town. No, they've created a framework for building one very specific type of town. Or worse, it results in metrics (and engineers ) driving your city design - building for the cheapest sewer or the fastest roads rather than for places people want to live.

Even the "rationale" examples provided in the UDI's Keesmaat peer review of Centre Plan are value-based:

Quote:
In Toronto, this materializes in a midrise typology between 6 – 11 stories, and the appropriate height is determined by the width of the right-of-way of the street. Others like Hamilton, use alignment with natural features (the Niagara Escarpment). For Hamilton, this has resulted in the adoption of a new policy framework wherein on tall building sites, all buildings are capped at 30 stories. Some cities, such as Paris, use historical context as the basis for their height rationale.
There's nothing scientifically "good" or "bad" about aligning heights with the Niagara Escarpment or historical context - those are value decisions about how those communities want to relate to their surroundings.

*As an aside, I'm currently watching the Vietnam War documentary series on Netflix, and one of the things that really stands out to me was the push to "science" that war. They collected endless amounts of data and ran it through computers and generated... what? There is no science of war. And the push to force "science" on it just resulted in reams of pointless data and bad decisions made based on that data (garbage in, garbage out as the programmers like to say).
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