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  #61  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 6:22 AM
ILoveHalifax ILoveHalifax is offline
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So Mason was in favor of reducing height on Wellington but could not consider increasing height on Artillery Place? I guess this shows just where he stands - anti development.
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  #62  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 1:30 PM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
I've heard all of those same rumours, but notice the result-- none of them have proven true. People widely expected Apple to be on SGR. So my question is... how, then, did it end up in a commuter mall? Someone either dropped the ball, or never picked it up. Which is very Halifax.
2 reasons I don't think this is a very big deal:

Of the 29 Apple store locations in Canada listed on their website, it only looks like 2 of them are not in malls (and both are in Quebec). Even the stores in Toronto and Vancouver all seem to be in malls. So it's not really "very Halifax", it's just the business model that that company is used to. I'm fairly sure that most of their US stores are in malls too. Particularly in Halifax's case, this makes sense; if I'm going to buy expensive electronics (that are notoriously easy to damage) then I'd rather step out of the store into a climate controlled environment than somewhere where I could immediately get rained on (such as Spring Garden). For the record there were (possibly still are?) indie computer stores in the south end that specialized in Apple products before the actual Apple store moved into HSC, not sure if they're still around.

Other thing is that while HSC is a mall (not sure exactly how you'd define "commuter mall") it's not like it's way out in the suburbs or that no one lives around there or that it's hard to get to. It's basically at the edge of the inner city and is very accessible by transit (particularly from the peninsula/Clayton Park, which I would imagine is where the majority of its customers are from). If HSC was way out in Bedford or Fall River (which, in terms of proportionate distance, is where a lot of large NA malls are located relative to their city centres) then I'd see a reason to complain, but it's located in a location that's arguably more accessible to more people than SGR (in terms of total
travel time).

I'm also not really the type to care much about clothing labels so I don't really care which brands set up shop downtown. Although I do have a few friends who are very label-conscious, I would argue that it's actually a local cultural trait to reject major labels/designers in favour of owning something "different" - which is likely a contributing factor to the lack of things like J Crew downtown. I'd rather see independent retailers, local designers, and brands not really seen elsewhere in Canada (like Cintamani) than the semi-luxe brands that you could find in any American state.
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  #63  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 1:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax View Post
So Mason was in favor of reducing height on Wellington but could not consider increasing height on Artillery Place? I guess this shows just where he stands - anti development.
I wouldn't say anti-development, it's a lot more nuanced than that. Certainly less "build! build! build!" than I think many of us would have hoped, but I would call him generally pro-development but with a number of caveats that have become more apparent lately.
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  #64  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 2:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Hali87 View Post

Other thing is that while HSC is a mall (not sure exactly how you'd define "commuter mall") it's not like it's way out in the suburbs or that no one lives around there or that it's hard to get to. It's basically at the edge of the inner city and is very accessible by transit (particularly from the peninsula/Clayton Park, which I would imagine is where the majority of its customers are from). If HSC was way out in Bedford or Fall River (which, in terms of proportionate distance, is where a lot of large NA malls are located relative to their city centres) then I'd see a reason to complain, but it's located in a location that's arguably more accessible to more people than SGR (in terms of total
travel time).
Indeed, I took transit to HSC for the first time a couple of weeks ago--the 52 crosstown got me from Mumford Terminal to North and Robie in, like, less than 10 minutes. It was a real, "Oh, that's actually not very far" moment. HSC is in the burbs, but it's right at the beginning of the burbs/edge of the city. I live in the North End and can walk to the mall in the same amount of time it takes to walk downtown. Agreed that it would be nice to have big-name retailers downtown, but I'm fairly certain that as Barrington continues its slow but steady rehab, that'll happen--especially with stuff like Espace and the Roy and whatnot.

Also I'll note that a fair number of big brands in Toronto are set up only at Yorkdale, which is probably more inaccessible than HSC, from the downtown.

Still, Counter's point is well taken--downtown should have a fair sampling of the big names, and it doesn't. But there is a strong selection of good local offerings, which I hope are retained as downtown inevitably becomes more full of the big brands.
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  #65  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 6:58 PM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
Yeah, I'm overstating my case, to be sure. Things are going significantly better downtown.

But I do think we've had significant "donut" growth in HRM for 20yrs, which has led to struggling businesses downtown and empty shop fronts all over the place, including Barrington and SGR. .........................................

But two places I've been to lately, comparable but actually smaller than Halifax, are kicking our ass on downtown energy.

St. John's, NL -- I hadn't been there in years, but was shocked with the change. It's downtown really had an energy and vibrancy, and I'm not the only one that has noticed:
The growth on the periphery of downtown is just a natural progression of a city the size of Halifax. Downtown will flourish because of its geographic boundaries of the harbour / southend. The peninsula will always be attractive and downtown will become taller and spread to Kempt Rd. It's happening now and the possibilities are endless. The convention centre will be a huge catalyst and the city will become very dense everywhere on the peninsula except for the central/west & southend.

I think a lot of the busy feel of St. John's is due to the very small footprint downtown. Most of the buildings are small wooden structures and the larger ones have a suburban feel. From an urban prospective I don't think it comes close to Halifax's downtown / northend.
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  #66  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 9:46 PM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by Hali87 View Post
2 reasons I don't think this is a very big deal:

Of the 29 Apple store locations in Canada listed on their website, it only looks like 2 of them are not in malls (and both are in Quebec). Even the stores in Toronto and Vancouver all seem to be in malls. So it's not really "very Halifax", it's just the business model that that company is used to. I'm fairly sure that most of their US stores are in malls too. Particularly in Halifax's case, this makes sense; if I'm going to buy expensive electronics (that are notoriously easy to damage) then I'd rather step out of the store into a climate controlled environment than somewhere where I could immediately get rained on (such as Spring Garden). For the record there were (possibly still are?) indie computer stores in the south end that specialized in Apple products before the actual Apple store moved into HSC, not sure if they're still around.

Other thing is that while HSC is a mall (not sure exactly how you'd define "commuter mall") it's not like it's way out in the suburbs or that no one lives around there or that it's hard to get to. It's basically at the edge of the inner city and is very accessible by transit (particularly from the peninsula/Clayton Park, which I would imagine is where the majority of its customers are from). If HSC was way out in Bedford or Fall River (which, in terms of proportionate distance, is where a lot of large NA malls are located relative to their city centres) then I'd see a reason to complain, but it's located in a location that's arguably more accessible to more people than SGR (in terms of total
travel time).
I define a commuter mall as a mall that the vast majority of customers drive to, rather than walk or take public transit to. By Halifax standards, HSC is in the suburbs, and the vast majority of people drive there and park. This is radically different from Eaton Centre, for example. Nobody drives to Eaton Centre. You either walk to it, or kike most, take the TTC there.

Certainly, it could be worse. HSC is, at least, not far out in the middle of nowhere like Dartmouth Crossing or deep in the burbs like MicMacMall or Bedford, and it is very well connected to major transit routes. Yes.

By contrast, the Apple Toronto and Vancouver stores are in shopping centres, yes, but most importantly those malls are located right in the core of downtown. Vancouver's main Apple store is in the Pacific Centre and Toronto's at the Eaton Centre. In Ottawa, the flagship location is on Rideau, about 10 min walk from the Peace Tower. In Montreal, the flagship is located on Ste-Catherine, in the core. True, other places have Apple stores are not entirely in the city core, like Edmonton or Calgary or even London, ON.

My point, is that there is no "rule" about precise location. Suburban mall locations are certainly not the default norm. Sometimes Apple locates in the core, and sometimes in more suburban mall locations. And that Halifax would probably have to make the case, and maybe even provide incentives, for a more downtown location to be pursued. I just wonder if anyone tried. It's entirely possible Apple kept its plans entirely secret so that there would not have been any chance to make that case. But I find it hard to believe there would not have been any kind of outreach to different locations, including downtown, by Apple, to explore options.

So its not just about malls. If Apple had located at Park Lane, I'd be jumping for joy.

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Originally Posted by Hali87 View Post
I'm also not really the type to care much about clothing labels so I don't really care which brands set up shop downtown. Although I do have a few friends who are very label-conscious, I would argue that it's actually a local cultural trait to reject major labels/designers in favour of owning something "different" - which is likely a contributing factor to the lack of things like J Crew downtown. I'd rather see independent retailers, local designers, and brands not really seen elsewhere in Canada (like Cintamani) than the semi-luxe brands that you could find in any American state.
I hear this a lot, and I don't think it's true at all. Halifax doesn't have an inherent cultural bias against "labels", though hipsters and grumpy Boomers might want us to think so. In fact, head out to any of the many suburban malls, and those national/international labels are doing just fine. At HSC, they've been bringing in new major retailers all the time, because HSC has done a good job of investing/improving their shopping centre and aggressively courting major retailers.

The reason those retailers are not downtown, is because those retailers go where the young people and economic growth is located. We've had zero residential development downtown for 20+ years, leading to an extreme paucity of population and economic growth in the core too: with approx 80%+ or more growth in the burbs/exurbs and rural areas. We've let that happen. People are fighting back more now, pressing HRM on the RP, but there is still a lot more work to be done. And some of those retailers are popping up downtown too, but it's sparse.

A truly successful downtown will have mix of local/national/international options and businesses. H&M, for example, is not a "luxury" label. It's actually hugely popular for the very reason that it has made nicer designs more affordable for a wider segment of the population. You may prefer local options, which actually are often more costly, and that is fine. But that's not going to lead to a successful retail sector downtown, because most don't share that preference.

Last edited by counterfactual; Mar 26, 2014 at 10:05 PM.
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  #67  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 9:57 PM
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The growth on the periphery of downtown is just a natural progression of a city the size of Halifax. Downtown will flourish because of its geographic boundaries of the harbour / southend. The peninsula will always be attractive and downtown will become taller and spread to Kempt Rd. It's happening now and the possibilities are endless. The convention centre will be a huge catalyst and the city will become very dense everywhere on the peninsula except for the central/west & southend.
There is nothing natural about "donut" growth in a penisular city. It's the result of bad policies, planning, laws, failed leadership, and a powerful and wealthy Sprawl lobby.

I respect your views Empire, you seem to have a lot more development expertise than I, but it sounds like you're writing here as if downtown "flourishing" is inevitable. It's actually suffered for decades. It's only now having a turnaround because of some serious hard work by people like Andy Filmore, busting his ass, to pass HRMxD, and, yes, now Mayor Savage, Waye Mason, and others pressing for more investment downtown.

Specific law and policy reform has been a key driver in recent progress, and we shouldn't kid ourselves that in order to reverse decades of decline, more work is in order: tax reform, fee changes, zoning changes, the Centre Plan, Regional plan, investing downtown, streetscaping, capital district improvement, developing brown zones/empty lots downtown, increasing height limits, investing in mass transit, greenbelting. That's the tip of the iceberg.
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  #68  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2014, 10:00 PM
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Indeed, I took transit to HSC for the first time a couple of weeks ago--the 52 crosstown got me from Mumford Terminal to North and Robie in, like, less than 10 minutes. It was a real, "Oh, that's actually not very far" moment. HSC is in the burbs, but it's right at the beginning of the burbs/edge of the city. I live in the North End and can walk to the mall in the same amount of time it takes to walk downtown. Agreed that it would be nice to have big-name retailers downtown, but I'm fairly certain that as Barrington continues its slow but steady rehab, that'll happen--especially with stuff like Espace and the Roy and whatnot.

Also I'll note that a fair number of big brands in Toronto are set up only at Yorkdale, which is probably more inaccessible than HSC, from the downtown.

Still, Counter's point is well taken--downtown should have a fair sampling of the big names, and it doesn't. But there is a strong selection of good local offerings, which I hope are retained as downtown inevitably becomes more full of the big brands.
Thanks, Dry-- I didn't see this point until now, but I echo you in my reply to Hali-- that a successful downtown needs a mix of shops-- big and small.

And I also take yours and Hali87's point-- HSC is very well connected by transit, and in fact, it's the best of all possible malls to have these retailers, if not downtown. Perhaps one day, HSC will be like the Eaton Center, with high density residential and retail all around...
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  #69  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 3:16 AM
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It seems like a few different points are being conflated here. I think most people posting in this thread would agree that areas like Bayers Lake have not been planned correctly and are not healthy for the city over the long run. There's a lot more than that going on though.

If I understand Empire correctly he is talking more about downtown spreading beyond its traditional boundaries, like, say, Brunswick Street (or, even earlier, Barrington or Argyle). This is undoubtedly happening and I think it is at odds with the vision of downtown returning to the way it was in the 1950's and 60's when Barrington was the dominant main street of a much smaller city. Barrington is now partly in the middle of the office core of the city, which is much larger than it was 50 years ago. Spring Garden Road is now the busiest retail street, and it has been for some time. There are also a lot of secondary areas like Barrington south of SGR or Dresden Row and soon maybe Queen Street or Brunswick Street that were not commercial districts in past decades. Argyle is pretty vibrant too and I bet Blowers/Grafton will be busier in a few years.

In some ways you could even argue that Barrington is becoming Halifax's "old town" now. I don't think this will change because there aren't a lot of development sites just south of Cogswell and west of Brunswick. Maybe a major redevelopment of Cogswell and the waterfront would make a difference.
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  #70  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 3:36 AM
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I have to agree with SO123 and Empire that this is a good case of downtown density expansion in an area which may not have been intended to have it. I'm not saying that's bad - it's a natural progression of growing downtowns. The Beltline in Calgary is a great example (the area south of the railways tracks between MacLeod Trail and 14 St and 17 Avenue). The Beltline was originally the low density/industrial portions of central Calgary - there was a mix of houses, industrial warehouses, factories - you name it. As time progressed, that low density has been predominantly removed for a variety of multi-residential development as varying scales/densities. While a portion of the Warehouse district still remains, this area is vastly mixed use. So the scale/character changed over time; density went up and as a result the perceived downtown (although I don't think it's actually technically considered DT) includes the Beltline.

In this case, the conflict here is that you have a proposal for higher density in an area that is predominantly low scale (likely medium density). What I'm puzzled by is how the two existing high rise buildings got there in the first place? I don't know enough about their history to say - but there is a saying we use a lot in Calgary Planning: Bad development of the past is no excuse for bad development of the future. So I'm forced to ask the question: Did the plan of the area intend for these buildings to be there? Or were they a result of a decision by another body - did the planning staff say no and then the NSURB over turned the decision? If that's the case - they are a product of bad planning so really shouldn't justify a future tall building...but like I said, I don't know the history here.

Frankly, I'm of two minds on the subject - I don't mind a tall building being there, nor do I mind a smaller scale building, it matters not for me. I just want to see something built...but I understand where many are of the feeling that taller is better (because you get more density, big building - bigger bang for the buck) versus smaller (you need to redevelop more area at lower building heights to get the same density as say 4 or 5 tall buildings).
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  #71  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 4:09 AM
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Yes, when I was talking about "donut" growth, I didn't mean outward expansion of density on the peninsula from the old downtown areas.

The "donut" is the broader suburban ring of sprawl growth off the peninsula, contributing to traffic congestion, increasing commuter times, increasing infrastructure and servicing costs, pollution, etc.

I should have been more clear.
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  #72  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 4:34 AM
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The "donut" is the broader suburban ring of sprawl growth off the peninsula, contributing to traffic congestion, increasing commuter times, increasing infrastructure and servicing costs, pollution, etc.
I think the worst factor there is that HRM has abdicated a lot of its responsibility in planning new suburbs.

If you look at old maps from, say, the 1920's, you'll see that the street network was planned out beyond the currently built-up areas, it was more coordinated, and the streetcars themselves went out basically to the edge of the city. Today it's normal for developers to do the planning in these areas. They build the streets they want for their own development then then it's up to the city to fix the mess years later with band-aid street widening, unworkable bus routes, etc.

The city doesn't need to run LRT or bus-only lanes out into the woods but they should have right of ways set aside, and there should be a clear picture of what the major arteries will be and how future developments will fit together. There should also be a willingness to take on long-term transit projects in the hundreds of millions of dollars, not just little short-term improvements. Calgary was smaller than Halifax is today when planning began for the LRT system there, and the technology is much better now.

On top of all this there is the aforementioned horrible practice of selling discounted land around areas like Bayers Lake. This will continue as long as there are city-owned entities that have incentives to generate quick cash without regard for the real cost to the municipality.
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  #73  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 5:40 AM
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I think the worst factor there is that HRM has abdicated a lot of its responsibility in planning new suburbs.

If you look at old maps from, say, the 1920's, you'll see that the street network was planned out beyond the currently built-up areas, it was more coordinated, and the streetcars themselves went out basically to the edge of the city. Today it's normal for developers to do the planning in these areas. They build the streets they want for their own development then then it's up to the city to fix the mess years later with band-aid street widening, unworkable bus routes, etc.

The city doesn't need to run LRT or bus-only lanes out into the woods but they should have right of ways set aside, and there should be a clear picture of what the major arteries will be and how future developments will fit together. There should also be a willingness to take on long-term transit projects in the hundreds of millions of dollars, not just little short-term improvements. Calgary was smaller than Halifax is today when planning began for the LRT system there, and the technology is much better now.

On top of all this there is the aforementioned horrible practice of selling discounted land around areas like Bayers Lake. This will continue as long as there are city-owned entities that have incentives to generate quick cash without regard for the real cost to the municipality.
Agree with ALL of this.

But what are the "city-owned entities" you're talking about? Isn't it just HRM doing that on recommendation by Planning staff? During the Dark Days of Peter Kelly, Council would go into one of its typical secret session and sell off land to Sprawl developers without public notice or debate.

I'd love to see where some of the sprawl lobby money goes. I wish some local journalist would look into that.
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  #74  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 11:54 AM
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Agree with ALL of this.

But what are the "city-owned entities" you're talking about? Isn't it just HRM doing that on recommendation by Planning staff? During the Dark Days of Peter Kelly, Council would go into one of its typical secret session and sell off land to Sprawl developers without public notice or debate.

I'd love to see where some of the sprawl lobby money goes. I wish some local journalist would look into that.
City does not own any land outside of Burnside, the last sale was phase 2 Bayer's Road (voted against sale, should have held the land). Burnside new phases are light industrial /logistics only. Unfortunately the inventory of land out there already is vast and will take years/decades to consume.
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  #75  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 1:09 PM
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I wouldn't say anti-development, it's a lot more nuanced than that. Certainly less "build! build! build!" than I think many of us would have hoped, but I would call him generally pro-development but with a number of caveats that have become more apparent lately.
I would say he's definitely a anti-development patsy for the south end community and they have him in their pocket, wealthiest area in the city but they don't even have a large enough density to support a corner store in some areas
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  #76  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 2:10 PM
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I think the worst factor there is that HRM has abdicated a lot of its responsibility in planning new suburbs.

If you look at old maps from, say, the 1920's, you'll see that the street network was planned out beyond the currently built-up areas, it was more coordinated, and the streetcars themselves went out basically to the edge of the city. Today it's normal for developers to do the planning in these areas. They build the streets they want for their own development then then it's up to the city to fix the mess years later with band-aid street widening, unworkable bus routes, etc.

The city doesn't need to run LRT or bus-only lanes out into the woods but they should have right of ways set aside, and there should be a clear picture of what the major arteries will be and how future developments will fit together. There should also be a willingness to take on long-term transit projects in the hundreds of millions of dollars, not just little short-term improvements. Calgary was smaller than Halifax is today when planning began for the LRT system there, and the technology is much better now.
Perversely, this is one of the weird benefits of the city's slow growth--at least there's not too much of that developer-planned sprawl, by comparison with some cities. I'm specifically thinking of Calgary in this regard, but yeah, the LRT has been successful as a rare example of long-term vision in that city, with right of ways worked out with developers in advance os subdivision planning. Today, even developers of the most car-centric suburbs work it into the long-range plan of new communities that are planned to fall along future routes.

Example: My mother recently moved into a condo in a super-far-out suburb of Calgary, and it's very horrible and entirely car-centric and totally developer-planned, with the typical unwalkable cul-de-sacs and inefficient bus routes and all that, but there is a planned LRT station centrally located in the area. It won't be built for about another decade or more, depending on various factors (right now they get a bus "rapid" transit service that takes over an hour to wind its way downtown) but the plan is there, for whatever it's worth.
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  #77  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 3:46 PM
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I would say he's definitely a anti-development patsy for the south end community...
"Patsy?"

lol
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  #78  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 5:25 PM
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"Patsy?"

lol
what term would you use. I thought it seemed applicable
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Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 8:28 PM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
Yes, when I was talking about "donut" growth, I didn't mean outward expansion of density on the peninsula from the old downtown areas.

The "donut" is the broader suburban ring of sprawl growth off the peninsula, contributing to traffic congestion, increasing commuter times, increasing infrastructure and servicing costs, pollution, etc.

I should have been more clear.
The outward growth is at least 50 years old and had many causes. The city of Halifax was the peninsula until the city grabbed a part of the county beyond Armdale rotary. Dartmouth population exploded after the construction of the MacDonald bridge and at the time of the 1995 amalgamation the city had as many people as peninsula Halifax.
Here is the population of peninsula Halifax from 1871-2011 ( official census)
1871 : 29,582
1881 : 36,100
1891 : 38,437
1901 : 40,832
1911 : 46,619
1921 : 58,372
1931 : 59,275
1941 : 70,488
1951 : 85,589
1961 : 92,511
1971 : 79,240
1981 : 65,943
1991 : 63,035
2001 : 61,584
2011 : 62,900

Last edited by Colin May; Mar 27, 2014 at 8:30 PM. Reason: one word added
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Old Posted Mar 27, 2014, 10:28 PM
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Patsy!
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