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  #121  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2012, 3:17 AM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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The DA approach is probably the most reasonable approach considering the delay, but it's disappointing that this wasn't given more priority. It's sad that the Provincial planners can't see the value in the density bonusing tool - but it's a rather new concept for Halifax and they probably need more time to understand it.
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  #122  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2012, 2:57 PM
worldlyhaligonian worldlyhaligonian is offline
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The Centre Plan process has hit a slight snag caused by the provincial legislature. The 11 corridors that were to be prioritized did not receive the necessary approval from the province before the spring session ended. This report shows the possible solutions to this delay. Staff are recommending switching to a development agreement process for these areas until approval is received at a future date.

There is another REPORT that gives feedback to the points raised at the public meetings last winter. One thing that stuck out at me was the comment on our NIMBY debate; "Climate change, rising energy costs, seal level rise, rising housing costs, declining public health, rising costs of municipal servicing, all point to the acute need to incentivize densification in the urban cores of our cities. Community tolerance for NIMBY-ism is waning rapidly as citizens are becoming more and more aware of the responsibility we each have in creating a sustainable future for current and future generations."

Both of these documents are going before the Community Design Advisory Committee tomorrow.

Thanks to Councilor Watts for the email alerting me to these documents.
So... this isn't good from a legal procedural aspect? Unless we get a super development friendly council, there are no guidelines and this supposed "waning" NIMBYism will run rampant. I prefer standards to opinions... although when standards aren't in play there is the potential for much taller buildings subject to debate.

Please convince Watts that we shouldn't be living in 1 story buildings.
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  #123  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2012, 3:33 PM
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Originally Posted by worldlyhaligonian View Post
So... this isn't good from a legal procedural aspect? Unless we get a super development friendly council, there are no guidelines and this supposed "waning" NIMBYism will run rampant. I prefer standards to opinions... although when standards aren't in play there is the potential for much taller buildings subject to debate.

Please convince Watts that we shouldn't be living in 1 story buildings.
Maybe changes will come after the election.....
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  #124  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2012, 4:21 PM
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Originally Posted by worldlyhaligonian View Post
So... this isn't good from a legal procedural aspect? Unless we get a super development friendly council, there are no guidelines and this supposed "waning" NIMBYism will run rampant. I prefer standards to opinions... although when standards aren't in play there is the potential for much taller buildings subject to debate.
I could be wrong but I think the next council will probably be less NIMBY-oriented because the districts will be larger and there will be more competition. It will be harder to get elected just by appealing to one small neighbourhood or demographic.
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  #125  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2012, 12:59 AM
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I could be wrong but I think the next council will probably be less NIMBY-oriented because the districts will be larger and there will be more competition. It will be harder to get elected just by appealing to one small neighbourhood or demographic.
I hope you are right on this!
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  #126  
Old Posted Sep 21, 2012, 7:40 PM
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Here's one the what is bound to be many issues that will be brought up with the Centre Plan;

Arenas in U-1 Zones
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  #127  
Old Posted Sep 22, 2012, 3:15 AM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Here's one the what is bound to be many issues that will be brought up with the Centre Plan;

Arenas in U-1 Zones
I doubt that anything is going to change here. In fact, if there is a push - something tells me there may be a push to create something that other Provinces have which exempts universities from planning regulations - a University Act.

Here in Alberta, we have one of those and the University of Calgary is completely exempt from the land use bylaw, despite being zoned. We can't touch it. The same is true for the University of Alberta.
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  #128  
Old Posted Sep 22, 2012, 3:17 AM
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Based on the Nimby reaction to the apartment building on Quinpool, I don't quite think that the NIMBY groups are quite finished yet. That said, if there is more of a reason to pass the regional centre plan, I couldn't point it out better than the reaction to that building.
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  #129  
Old Posted May 8, 2013, 9:41 PM
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Here's an article on the progress of Bill 83: http://metronews.ca/news/halifax/662...nt-amendments/

Actual bill description and current status shown here: http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/pr...nded_-_bill_83

Quote:
This Bill amends the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter to

(a) define and delineate a “Centre Plan Area” in the central area of the Halifax Regional Municipality on both sides of Halifax Harbour and define “affordable housing”;

(b) permit incentive or bonus zoning under the land-use by-law or incentive or bonus zoning agreements in the Centre Plan Area ;

(c) authorize the HRM Council to include requirements in a land-use by-law that provides for incentive or bonus zoning in the central area of the Municipality , including the existing HRM by Design Downtown Plan Area ;

(d) require the inclusion of affordable housing as a contribution for incentive or bonus zoning for a development in the Centre Plan Area;

(e) authorize the Council to accept money in lieu of contributions under an incentive or bonus zoning agreement for incentive or bonus zoning in the central area of the Municipality; and

(f) authorize the Minister to make regulations respecting

(i) the nature and extent of affordable housing to be required by the land-use by-law or incentive or bonus zoning agreements in the Centre Plan Area and the enforcement of the affordable housing requirements , and
(ii) public consultation prior to site-plan approvals in the Centre Plan Area.
This makes a lot of sense in terms of economic incentives to developers but I also like how it takes the wind out of the sails of the incoherent "affordable housing vs. developers cashing in" rhetoric that is so common. Developers are the ones who build new housing, and affordability comes from having a robust supply of new construction. Throwing up roadblocks that stop developers from building to serve any segment of the market restricts supply and pushes prices up. The real downsides of development meanwhile come when it is poorly planned and when developers and new residents don't cover their costs, as in most new suburban areas. The Centre Plan addresses this as well.

I think eventually it would also be a good thing for the city to permit density bonuses in exchange for money spent on heritage preservation. Unfortunately I don't think groups like the HT will push for policies because of their NIMBY ties.
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  #130  
Old Posted May 8, 2013, 10:02 PM
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I think eventually it would also be a good thing for the city to permit density bonuses in exchange for money spent on heritage preservation. Unfortunately I don't think groups like the HT will push for policies because of their NIMBY ties.
HT really do seem prehistoric. I tried to find them on Twitter a while ago and they have no presence there, and apparently no community engagement at all, ioutside of their newsletter. So far behind the times—I think density bonusing would blow their minds.
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  #131  
Old Posted May 8, 2013, 11:00 PM
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HT really do seem prehistoric. I tried to find them on Twitter a while ago and they have no presence there, and apparently no community engagement at all, ioutside of their newsletter. So far behind the times—I think density bonusing would blow their minds.
I think new outlets like Twitter, FB, all the publicly-available plans, construction webcams, etc. have helped in terms of generating broader interest in urban planning in Halifax and in terms of keeping people a little more informed about what's going on. Many people are interested in planning, but there is a lot of misinformation out there (it drives me crazy when I read factually incorrect statements like "there hasn't been a development downtown in 20 years") and up until recently a few voices (like the HT and Phil Pacey) were given a disproportionate weight while many others were excluded. 10 years ago, the approval process in Halifax felt purely like a tug-of-war between developers maximizing profits and BANANA types who had already settled in the South End and wanted to slam the door shut behind them. There was little broad consideration of what needed to be done to make the city more successful and liveable for all.

I like to think that SSP has played at least a small role in this as well.
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  #132  
Old Posted May 8, 2013, 11:14 PM
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This is why HRM wants this:

By approving the use of Site Plan Approval and Density Bonusing throughout the Regional Centre, the success achieved under HRMbyDesign can be expanded throughout the urban heart of HRM.

Site Plan Approval provides clear, consistent policies for development. It has been proven to encourage development and economic activity, as seen in the downtown core, and is a useful tool HRM can utilize to promote good design and faster development approval timelines.

HRM will now be able to consider Site Plan Approval and Density Bonusing as part of the Regional Centre Plan public engagement process to be undertaken later this year. Incentive or bonus zoning are strategic planning tools used by municipal governments to secure community benefits from developers.
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  #133  
Old Posted May 8, 2013, 11:27 PM
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Are there any differences between these changes for the regional centre and the changes that were brought in under HRM by Design? I am basically thinking of this as "HRM by Design for the rest of the core" -- the height precincts etc. may vary, but the general idea is the same.

It will be really interesting to see how much of an impact this has on proposals in areas like the North End and Dartmouth. I have a feeling the current approval process is (unfortunately) particularly hard on lower budget projects, like midrises in the less expensive neighbourhoods. If you want to build a 20 storey building it might be worth the uncertain approval times (and spending $500k of a $60M budget to deal with the paperwork and appeals), but it may not worth the delay and cost to do a 6 storey apartment instead of 4 floors as-of-right. In some cases if the AOR proposal is not viable (e.g. site needs expensive remediation) and the costs of approval are not worthwhile then a property will simply sit vacant and everybody loses.
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  #134  
Old Posted May 9, 2013, 11:37 AM
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Are there any differences between these changes for the regional centre and the changes that were brought in under HRM by Design? I am basically thinking of this as "HRM by Design for the rest of the core" -- the height precincts etc. may vary, but the general idea is the same....
I'm under the same understanding: Centre Plan is HRMbyDesign for the rest of us. If I remember correctly, I think that it is really phase II of HRMbyDesign, which wasn't originally intended to result in the changes to downtown's Land Use Bylaw and Municipal Planning Strategy. Partway through the process, the consultants' scope was increased to include developing new rules for downtown, based on the principals of the urban design study. Now, the rest of us have to develop similar rules in our neighbourhoods - an attempt to provide hyper-local voices to guide development.
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  #135  
Old Posted May 9, 2013, 3:31 PM
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Essentially - Someone123 is correct. It would be HRM by design, for the regional centre. The only exception to that would be in the low density neighbourhoods, it would be geared towards that type of development and keeping them pretty stable (mostly renovations, some tear down and rebuilds of new houses). My only thought on that would be that we need to rethink the idea of appropriately scaled multi-residential in some low density areas. There is nothing wrong with 3 or 4 storey walk up apartments in some low density areas where you can convert houses to up to 3 units (which is pretty much most of the peninsula).

Change the definition of multi to be a building of 9 or more units and then set out rules to allow certain scales of walk up apartments. So if the homes next to you are 2 stories, you can do 3. If they are 3, you can do the max of 4 stories and start approving something like this or like this with say up to 8 units. These are perfectly acceptable, but we don't encourage building them anymore (when I was in Chicago, I fell in love with these)!

But the HRMbyDesign stuff would mainly be focused in the proposed corridors (Agricola, Quinpool, Wyse Road, etc.) but as I understand the amendment for affordable housing - that would apply to the entire regional centre. So if someone were to get a policy amendment and rezoning of a site not typically in a corridor, the City could still require the affordable housing element as part of the proposal.
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  #136  
Old Posted May 10, 2013, 1:18 AM
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Bill 83 passed the House this afternoon. What a lot of work.

Now, RP5 review goes to the public in about 20-30 days, council should pass in September or October, then Centre Plan needs to be completed after that.
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  #137  
Old Posted May 13, 2013, 3:26 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Bill 83 passed the House this afternoon. What a lot of work.

Now, RP5 review goes to the public in about 20-30 days, council should pass in September or October, then Centre Plan needs to be completed after that.
Well that was the crucial element - so now that its done, it shouldn't be long for the RCP LUB/MPS. I love acronyms.

I'd like to see (down the road) the RP get a new transportation plan that includes visioning for a future LRT. I was sad to see the future high speed ferries were removed in the RP+5 document. They should remain on the books (frankly). If we planned out LRTs now, we could start the ball rolling to get a similar bill passed to extend HbD style rules into future Transit Oriented Development areas.
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  #138  
Old Posted May 14, 2013, 3:49 PM
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Since this really has to do with DT but we've been talking about the Regional Centre - I thought I would add this into this thread.


GARRETT: Barrington Street bides its time
Architect offers his vision of a revitalized downtown district
Barrington Street has had more than a “lost decade,” as recently reported in this newspaper. It has been in decline, or at least not at full strength, for nearly three generations, since the early 1960s, when Eaton’s began the trend by moving to the new West End Mall.

Since then, Halifax and, more recently, Halifax Regional Municipality have not responded in a significant way to this retail and demographic shift.

HRM, through it leaders, has continued to avoid the reality that successful cities across North America have recognized and worked hard to address: that healthy cities need healthy downtowns, maybe with a megaproject or two but primarily made up of a dense fabric of small economic activity and a rich environment.

We’ve all experienced this fabric elsewhere. It needs to happen here, but don’t just wait for it to happen on its own. It won’t, as we’ve been finding out in Halifax for the last 50 years.

Halifax has the added inducement of needing to develop a suitable urban environment to help attract business to support the hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in the Nova Centre.

Here is one observer’s short list of what needs to happen:

1. HRM leadership and investment

HRM must get bullish on the downtown. It has been bullish on the suburbs since amalgamation, but the pendulum has shifted. Everyone is saying it: HRM must reinvigorate the downtown, and Barrington Street in particular. Specifically, HRM must make several commitments to do this.

It must commit the much-discussed federal and provincial infrastructure funds to the urban core.

It must correct current taxation policies that are a disincentive to downtown retail and commercial development.

It must control the unabated ongoing development of suburban areas in contravention to the HRM Regional Plan.

It must plan for the redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange lands in a way that will include the needs of the adjacent areas, in particular Barrington Street.

It needs to renew and expand the Barrington Street Heritage Conservation District Incentive Program, which has been successful in helping to initiate numerous small and large projects and is in the last year of its funding.

Beyond these commitments, it must provide leadership and, where necessary, investment in the following public and private sector initiatives:

(The rest of the story is here)
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  #139  
Old Posted May 14, 2013, 11:19 PM
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That is a pretty good article. Thanks for posting. I agree that the downtown needs a mix of things to be successful: streetscapes, transit, parking, heritage funding, private and public support, etc. It is important to move past "silver bullet" type thinking.

I like the point about having a critical mass of retailers on Barrington. A big part of the problem with the street right now isn't so much that there's no demand for retail space or space in the buildings, it's that the availability of good retail space is very patchy. As a result, it's not great as a general shopping destination, even though it does have some specific stores that are interesting. The same phenomenon is at play in the neighbourhood as a whole; there are so many underused sites around Barrington that overall densities are quite low and the number of residents, workers, etc. is much smaller than it could be.
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  #140  
Old Posted May 14, 2013, 11:37 PM
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I don't like seeing the ferry expansion disappear from the plan either. A ferry has a couple of key advantages, namely that we build a terminal, buy a boat and away we go. No need to deal with CN or upgrade the rail corridor or, potentially, acquire right of ways. A ferry could also drop people right in Downtown Halifax whereas rail, right now, stops several blocks short. In the debate over the ferry, the discussion failed to take into account a ferry's potential as a development tool. The harbour ferries are fun and are an attractive way to commute. If we put a ferry into Bedford, it would make the surrounding land way more attractive for development, which, being the waterfront, is already valuable land. Allowing growth near a new terminal could contribute significantly to paying for the service. We need to start taking into account the true costs and benefits of our spending decisions instead of fixating on the immediate cost. Rail may have a role in our future, but I often wonder if we're too fixated on the location of the existing tracks. An on-street streetcar system that links the universities, hospitals, Downtown might be a better bet than trying to use tracks that skirt several of the key destinations.
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