Nova Scotia

10 ways the Centre Plan could shape Halifax and Dartmouth for years to come

The final draft of the Centre Plan — the design manual that will shape the urban core of Halifax and Dartmouth for decades to come — has many suggestions for the future.

170-page report outlines plan to focus growth in urban core of Halifax and Dartmouth

Planners made this map to show future development in the central HRM area. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

After more than two years in development, the final draft of the Halifax Regional Municipality's Centre Plan was made public on Friday, shedding light on what the urban core of the city could look like in decades to come. 

The 170-page document has outlined a number of ways to improve development in the city's urban core, defined as the Halifax peninsula and the area within Dartmouth's Circumferential Highway.

The plan must still go through a couple of committees before it is presented to Halifax Regional Council, including a presentation before the community advisory committee on Wednesday. 

Here are a few of suggestions being proposed: 

Expanding transit services

Public transit is a big focus of the Halifax-Dartmouth Centre Plan. (CBC)

Essential to the future of any growing city is a reliable and efficient transit system. 

The Centre Plan proposes an expansion of transit services during the midday, evening and weekends. It also considers "Transit Priority Measures" that could include bus lanes and separate transit corridors for buses.

The plan also encourages car and bike sharing as well as creating more "harbour crossings" to better connect downtown Halifax and Dartmouth 

Room for the birds and the bees? Yes

The Centre Plan recommends allowing backyard chickens and beekeeping in all zones. (iStock)

The Centre Plan also suggests allowing domestic birds — chickens, for example — as well as bees to be raised in all zones. 

Edible landscaping

The plan suggests using edible landscaping — fruit, nut and berry bushes/trees — throughout the regional centre. Community groups/organizations would then be able to harvest the fruits, the plan proposes.

Reducing bird collisions

The plan would also require new developments to incorporate more "bird friendly" designs to reduce deaths. 

Such measures include visual marks and patterns on glass or using non-reflective glass.

Casting long shadows, or not

Buildings surround the public space at the Halifax Common. But if new buildings are too tall that could be a problem under the Centre Plan. (Zaa Nkweta/CBC)

The plan recommends new buildings not cast shadows beyond 20 metres long into neighbouring parks and open spaces, "parallel to an exterior property" between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. between March 21 and Sept. 21. 

This proposed rule, for instance, could have implications for structures such as the contentious tower condo development proposed for the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street. 

Space between new buildings

In what the city is calling "future growth nodes," new buildings would have a required distance of 25 metres between them to provide views of the sky and privacy between towers.

Future growth nodes are large sites such as Shannon Park that have the potential to become large development swaths.

Cut down on the racket

Anyone who's lived in heavily populated areas knows how big of a problem noise can be. The Centre Plan encourages new residential developments to use "protective measures" to cut down on noise, such as construction of noise barriers and building more soundproof apartment and condo buildings.

No more elevated walkways

According the the Centre Plan, elevated pedestrian walkways (or pedways) such as those connecting various buildings in downtown Halifax "remove people and activity from streets" meaning less foot traffic for street-level stores. 

The plan suggests prohibiting future pedways.

Pedestrians as a priority

Pedestrians are a large focus of the new Centre Plan. (iStock)

Making Halifax and Dartmouth as pedestrian-friendly as possible is one of the core concepts of the Centre Plan. 

The plan recommends, among other things, only permitting new drive-through facilities in industrial or commercial areas called "Intensive Employment areas."

There are also recommendations for enhanced lighting for pedestrian walkways, as well as enhancing and expanding pedestrian corridors throughout HRM and making some sidewalks wider.

Bury utility lines 

The city should make burying utility lines a priority, starting with downtown areas first, then expanding to areas further outside the core.

With files from Pam Berman

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