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  #41  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2011, 2:41 AM
rkannegi rkannegi is offline
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Not wanting to widen any roads. Its nuts how some officials here think that there's no limit to how many people they can cram into a square kilometre of land. After a certain point, expansion has to be allowed, but not like what you get down in Florida (sprawl madness).

For instance, why in hell can't they just add bus lanes to Bayers Road and implement BRT along the 102, i.e. Route 182, similar to the BRT along Ottawa Road 174:

Here's a Google Streetview Image of what I'm talking about:

http://maps.google.ca/?ll=45.456829,...,243.1,,1,5.12

At least they could get this done on Bayers Road east of the 102 viaduct in the short term and then extend it once a widened viaduct is built, while, having the Northwest Arm Drive Interchange (exit 1) converted to a roundabout diamond (Larry Uteck style) interchange and ram right-side bus/HOV lanes all the way up to Exit 4 in Bedford. Take a look at how the lanes are passed across the interchanges of Ottawa Road 174 (that design can be modified to also have the bus/HOV lane proceed straight across the overpasses with it briefly being an auxiliary lane in close proximity to the interchange merge and exit lanes.

About the HSC junction, I did recently send in a signal phasing plan to HRM that would theoretically allow the new bus lanes to be run right through the existing area (left turn lanes would become shared left/through lanes), with it's timings being similar to the Chain Lake/102 interchange and Burnside/111 interchange.

The mindless political rangling in HRM is a recipe for economic suicide, even with the shipbuilding contract.

Last edited by rkannegi; Dec 11, 2011 at 4:28 AM.
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  #42  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2012, 5:28 AM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Not sure if anyone noticed this on the upcoming Regional Council agenda but they are pushing back RP+5 and moving up work on the Regional Centre Plan.
Here is the report.
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  #43  
Old Posted Feb 27, 2012, 6:51 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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HRM's website has been updated to call the Regional Centre Plan "Plan HRM". It seems like everyone is using a similar title, since Saint John called their's "Plan SJ" and we called our City Plan "Plan It Calgary".

Still, there is a new link and there is a kick off event on March 1. It looks like they also have a twitter and facebook page.
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  #44  
Old Posted Feb 28, 2012, 6:34 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Council has begun discussing this report.
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  #45  
Old Posted Feb 28, 2012, 6:46 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Some good discussion - some concerns about the level of public engagement and concerns about the community visioning areas that are on going - but this will proceed.
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  #46  
Old Posted Feb 28, 2012, 8:46 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Public Engagement dates:
March 19, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

St. Margaret's Centre - Rooms 1 & 2, 12 Westwood Blvd, Upper Tantallon


March 21, 6:30 - 9:00 pm

Atlantica Hotel - Guild Hall, 1980 Robie Street, Halifax


March 22, 7:00 - 9:30 pm

Millwood High School - Cafeteria, 141 Millwood Drive, Lower Sackville


March 26, 7:00 - 9:30 pm*

Oyster Pond Academy - Cafeteria, 10583 Hwy#7, Oyster Pond

March 28, 7:00 - 9:30 pm

Black Cultural Centre, 10 Cherry Brook Road, Cherry Brook

March 29, 6:30 - 9:00 pm*

Holiday Inn Harbourview - Harbourview Terrace, 110 Wyse Rd, Dartmouth

April 2, 6;30 - 9:00 pm*

Mount Saint Vincent University - Rosaria Student Centre, 2 Oceanview Dr., Bedford Highway

* is a date which will provide live streaming.
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  #47  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 6:38 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Anyone make it to the kick off event?
Their facebook page mentioned that there were 200+ people there.
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  #48  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 9:41 PM
Hali87 Hali87 is offline
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I was there. The main speaker was one of the architect/planners who worked on Toronto's Avenues plan, and discussed that plan in detail and how those principles could be applied here. The concepts were pretty well received, I would guess in large part because it allows the city to densify significantly without building anything over 12 floors.

The public seemed polarized over heights as always, and sadly, there were several speakers who got up and said "Is anyone thinking of the Citadel? That is why tourists come here. We shouldn't have tall buildings. We shouldn't try to be like Toronto". Etc. At the same time, others commented that the viewplanes and ramparts bylaw should at least be revisited, that we should be focusing MORE than 25% of growth in the core (what happens when gas is $5/L?) and what I thought may turn out to be the most important comment, is someone said "we throw around the word heritage all the time, but we never define it. We need to decide what we're actually talking about when we talk about heritage." Truth.

I asked the panel whether they thought HRM by Design should be revisited. I said that the YMCA controversy demonstrates that the height limits do not make economic sense and that even the developers who genuinely want to give back to the community can't afford to with the rules the way they are, simply because they cannot produce enough square footage with the current height limits. So recognizing this, should we revisit the height limits, taking into account the levels of density required for development to be viable, or should we leave them the way they are for the sake of clarity? The session was running late and there was only time for a response from one panel member, and she said no we shouldn't look at changing them. They don't have to break the rules just to break even; there's cheaper ways to build.

However, it caused a bit of a buzz in the room and I'd be surprised if this doesn't come up in the next series of meetings. All in all I'm pretty optimistic about the process. There are certainly more than a couple STV representatives but I think if there is an appeal to reason, as there was with the Dartmouth Cove sessions, that the plan might not have the traditional no heights at all costs dogma. I certainly plan to, and I've been writing down my thoughts and trying to put things more eloquently (this post is not a good example as I'm very sleep deprived right now). I should mention that I'm not the type who just wants to see more tall buildings, I really just want to see more density. However, I don't think height should be the starting point for what is and is not allowed. And I think the ramparts bylaw is not the right approach - it looks great on paper and in theory, but it's absolutely a case of the city putting tourists before its own citizens, and thinking it knows what those tourists want, when really half the tourists who come here don't even know there's a fort.
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  #49  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Hali87 View Post
The session was running late and there was only time for a response from one panel member, and she said no we shouldn't look at changing them. They don't have to break the rules just to break even; there's cheaper ways to build.
There may or may not be cheaper ways to build, but the fact is that given the current rules enough developers are choosing to build in the suburbs that the city is missing its own densification targets. The planning rules are failing to produce the desired result, therefore something is wrong with them. It doesn't matter what the panelists think developers should be doing.

Who was the panelist? Bev Miller or something?

I believe that a lot of the planning in Halifax is lazy in that it puts off tough decisions to be dealt with later by HRM regional council and the NSUARB. It is very easy to pass a plan full of height restrictions but we must pay the price down the line. The job should be done properly the first time.

I agree completely about "heritage" and I've complained about sloppy use of the term in the past. Originally "heritage preservation" meant keeping old buildings around instead of demolishing them. That definition has slowly crept outward to include preserving the environment around heritage buildings and to include preserving views. The city needs to take a hard look at what these are actually worth. Halifax's best heritage buildings are worth a lot but preserving a full view of the sky from within the Citadel courtyard is worth considerably less. There's a reason why anti-development folks want this all to be sacrosanct; it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
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  #50  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 10:48 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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I'm posting this here since Someone123 talks about the cost of development and the relationship to height. I'm not sure if anyone went exploring around the website for the Gottingen Redevelopment that someone123 posted renderings for, but I found this article through that website. Very interesting.
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  #51  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 11:15 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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In regards to the opening; I'm not surprised this happened. I figured the HT would try to stack the room full of people, it sounds like they were successful to a degree, but that doesn't always mean they've 'won the war'.

I have found through my experience in public meetings and engagement there is often a very silent group that sits in the background and doesn't say much. I find those are the ones I make a direct line too once the meeting is over and try to talk with, because they say little to nothing and just take it all in.

The avenues plan is interesting - it does cap development to 12 stories along the major corridors, but as was pointed out in the Bosquet article about the Dartmouth cove work - you have to be able to have a certain amount of people to be able to make commercial work. While I think if you put 12 stories all along say Quinpool you might be okay, shorter areas like Agricola between North and Cornwallis might require more height because of the shorter stretch of commercial.

But certainly putting 12 storey buildings in places like Robie and Young makes no sense, when the existing provisions of the MPS (Schedule Q) allow for buildings up to 19. Personally I was a land owner and I ended up being downzoned or having that ability taken away, I would be quite upset. But 12 stories might be a good start for places like Highfield Park.

With the new attitude that seems to be occuring in Halifax; something tells me 12 stories might just be the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind, this is just the kick off - it's a long ways to public hearing!
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  #52  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 11:42 PM
Hali87 Hali87 is offline
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
There may or may not be cheaper ways to build, but the fact is that given the current rules enough developers are choosing to build in the suburbs that the city is missing its own densification targets. The planning rules are failing to produce the desired result, therefore something is wrong with them. It doesn't matter what the panelists think developers should be doing.

Who was the panelist? Bev Miller or something?
It wasn't Bev Miller. I forget her name, the names of the panelists were posted on the RP+5 site for a day or two leading up to the event but they've been taken down. She was representing a coalition (again I forget what it was called) that represented several different community groups, and I believe was involved with the EAC as a transportation specialist. I agreed with most but not all of what she said. The way she handled the question about the YMCA site bothered me, it seemed implicit that she meant that cheap building materials are preferable over any flexibility in height.
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  #53  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 11:52 PM
Hali87 Hali87 is offline
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Originally Posted by halifaxboyns View Post
In regards to the opening; I'm not surprised this happened. I figured the HT would try to stack the room full of people, it sounds like they were successful to a degree, but that doesn't always mean they've 'won the war'.

I have found through my experience in public meetings and engagement there is often a very silent group that sits in the background and doesn't say much. I find those are the ones I make a direct line too once the meeting is over and try to talk with, because they say little to nothing and just take it all in.

The avenues plan is interesting - it does cap development to 12 stories along the major corridors, but as was pointed out in the Bosquet article about the Dartmouth cove work - you have to be able to have a certain amount of people to be able to make commercial work. While I think if you put 12 stories all along say Quinpool you might be okay, shorter areas like Agricola between North and Cornwallis might require more height because of the shorter stretch of commercial.

But certainly putting 12 storey buildings in places like Robie and Young makes no sense, when the existing provisions of the MPS (Schedule Q) allow for buildings up to 19. Personally I was a land owner and I ended up being downzoned or having that ability taken away, I would be quite upset. But 12 stories might be a good start for places like Highfield Park.

With the new attitude that seems to be occuring in Halifax; something tells me 12 stories might just be the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind, this is just the kick off - it's a long ways to public hearing!

This isn't really how it would work though; I probably should have explained it better. There wouldn't be any 12 storey buildings on Quinpool or likely any of the corridors in HRM, and a very select few even in Toronto.

The basic principle is that there should be a 1:1 ratio between the width of the street (or the distance between the buildings) and the height of the buildings. This ensures light penetration (one of the requirements for Toronto's plan was a minimum of 5 hours sunlight on all of the identified streets) and creates a very specific massing/aesthetic - Paris was often used as an example. So what you'd get on Quinpool is probably 6 or 7 storeys at its widest points. Maybe. The other thing to keep in mind is that there would be minimum heights as well, probably a couple storeys lower than the maximum heights. So again you can kind of see how dramatically it would increase density (and significantly change the appearance of the street) without allowing for high-rises.

This last point is what makes me think that this plan won't really fly in Halifax. People will want Quinpool to "keep its character" and replacing the existing buildings with sleek midrises would be a dramatic change. Also many of the streets that would logically be considered are too narrow to build anything over 2 or 3 storeys under this approach. The problem is, once there are too many compromises, you miss the whole point of the plan. The Dartmouth Cove sessions actually made reference to the 1:1 approach as well, but it works better in that specific case because they get to decide how wide the streets are going to be. So they basically determined that 18 storeys would be necessary to accommodate what the public wanted, and then designed a street/greenway that would be about as wide as the 18 storey buildings are tall.
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  #54  
Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 12:05 AM
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Part of why it's important to have more height in Halifax is that so many potential development sites are totally off the table. If you want to increase density by 30% but only 5% of sites are available for development then those have to be higher density sites.

If the plan for Halifax is conservative midrises along major streets then the impact on densities won't be very substantial from a regional planning perspective. Over the next 10 years the population could easily grow by 50,000. Absorbing 25% of that in the urban core means perhaps 5,000 new housing units. That is about 60 new Trilliums, or 100 large midrise buildings. Putting a four- or six-storey building here or there (after 3 years of wrangling with locals and trips to the UARB) is not even remotely going to cut it.
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  #55  
Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 1:03 AM
Hali87 Hali87 is offline
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I agree completely about "heritage" and I've complained about sloppy use of the term in the past. Originally "heritage preservation" meant keeping old buildings around instead of demolishing them. That definition has slowly crept outward to include preserving the environment around heritage buildings and to include preserving views. The city needs to take a hard look at what these are actually worth. Halifax's best heritage buildings are worth a lot but preserving a full view of the sky from within the Citadel courtyard is worth considerably less. There's a reason why anti-development folks want this all to be sacrosanct; it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
For me the question is, what makes a heritage building a heritage building? Technically everything that we build is a part of our heritage.
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  #56  
Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 1:20 AM
RyeJay RyeJay is offline
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Are economics banned from these meetings? Is this simply going to turn into a platform for people to come in and express how they feel the cityscape should be sculpted? 25% urban growth is absurd considering how much more unafforable the basics of life will be even by the end of this decade.

These meetings need to be less subjective and focus on what needs to be done -- not what we want.
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  #57  
Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 9:00 PM
worldlyhaligonian worldlyhaligonian is offline
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Part of why it's important to have more height in Halifax is that so many potential development sites are totally off the table. If you want to increase density by 30% but only 5% of sites are available for development then those have to be higher density sites.
Haha, but aren't those sites off the table because of rules against height? It seems like there is a huge catch 22 here. Everything has been codified to the point where development isn't allowed, but there are planning goals for increased density.

We've been duped and legislated into a corner by the anti-development folks who sit on council, committees, and show up in unrepresentative numbers at public meetings... even when a development meets the planning requirements.

In most cases of opposition, the developer was following the rules in the first place. But the anti-development people claim the rules aren't strict enough.

In other cases the developer goes through the legitimate process of seeking an amendment which make the anti-development folks use the typical line "well the rules are out the window now". Unfortunately, their skewing and application of "rules" is only correct in their minds.
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  #58  
Old Posted Mar 4, 2012, 4:16 PM
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Hopefully the Centre Plan will have mostly 12 storey limits and up. As seen with the Citadel Hotel redevelopment, when building height limits are reasonable then major projects can proceed quickly with relatively little red-tape. The Citadel Hotel proposal stayed within the HRM_by_Design rules, which were a reasonable height for that location, and it was approved with very little red-tape.
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  #59  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2012, 7:09 AM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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As a planner in Calgary; I'm part of the volunteer committee that arranges monthly lunch talks out here in Calgary on planning issues. We had some people in a few months back to look at the economics side - how does a project make money and when does zoning create negative impacts to the economics. It was a really interesting discussion, because we had a bunch of local developers take us through a few hypothetical prospectus on various projects and then see how changes (like say reducing height from 20 stories to 15) change the costing. I'm sure if the PlanHRM team wanted to do something like that as part of an evening discussion setting - there are countless developers out there that could do it. I'm sure if some called Joe Metledge (Templeton Properties) he could do something. Would be interesting to hear.

One of the things I like to do when I travel is look at the areas where a city has encouraged change as a means to learn good and bad ways to redevelop and take that knowledge with me. Hopefully some day apply to another place, wherever I end up (I'm hoping Halifax some day).

One way I like to do that is through the photo threads here. I found a really great thrad on the Lincoln Park Neighbourhood in Chicago. I was recently informed that work wasn't going to send me to Los Angeles for the APA conference (we're still being cautious with the fragile economy) so I started saving up for the APA conference next year in Chicago. I may go on my own, even if work doesn't send me. But the Lincoln Park area looks very interesting.

The single detached and row housing look amazing and I think it's photo 50 in the string that is a 5 storey infill, that has a best buy on the ground floor. I could easily see these types of row houses being behind some 12-15 storey developments along Agricola. Oh if only I had about 50 million in my pocket, I'd made it happen.
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  #60  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2012, 7:34 AM
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Originally Posted by halifaxboyns View Post
As a planner in Calgary; I'm part of the volunteer committee that arranges monthly lunch talks out here in Calgary on planning issues. We had some people in a few months back to look at the economics side - how does a project make money and when does zoning create negative impacts to the economics. It was a really interesting discussion, because we had a bunch of local developers take us through a few hypothetical prospectus on various projects and then see how changes (like say reducing height from 20 stories to 15) change the costing. I'm sure if the PlanHRM team wanted to do something like that as part of an evening discussion setting - there are countless developers out there that could do it. I'm sure if some called Joe Metledge (Templeton Properties) he could do something. Would be interesting to hear.
That sounds like a great type of event.

The adversarial relationship between the city/heritage people/developers is at the heart of a lot of Halifax's problems. Really the city should be talking to developers to find out what their requirements are and then that should figure highly into any plans that are made. Sometimes lip service is given to economic feasibility but that is insufficient. Without the economic foundation the plans don't work, regardless of how happy they make people at public consultations.
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