Nova Scotia

18 development proposals for Halifax showcased ahead of Centre Plan

Regional council will have to decide if any of the proposals will be considered before new development rules are approved at some point in 2017.

Council to decide if proposals will be considered before or after new development rules get approved

An open house to showcase 18 development proposals for Halifax and Dartmouth was packed Tuesday afternoon. (CBC)

Halifax regional council will have to decide if it will consider applications for 18 development proposals before or after new rules for development — known as the Centre Plan — are approved.

"Planning is about to change fundamentally," said Kate Greene, policy and strategic initiatives program manager with the municipality's planning and development department. "It's all about what's the type of  change we need to see."

A draft for the Halifax-Dartmouth Centre Plan is expected some time this month, but it could be months before it's approved and put into practice. The design manual to shape peninsular Halifax and Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway will touch on everything from the height of buildings to transit options to municipal parks.

Double the development proposals

An open house hosted by municipal planners Tuesday afternoon at the Atlantica Hotel in Halifax was packed with people.

Greene said over the past three years her department has averaged eight to 10 development proposals a year. 

"[Eighteen proposals] is a little bit more than we normally have but it's in keeping with our policy which talks about putting more growth within the centre and so I think the development community is starting to respond," Greene said.

"We would like to see more growth within the centre of the city," she said.

'City that's moving forward'

Some of the proposals are for buildings from as short as three storeys to as tall as 30 storeys.

Westwood Developments president Danny Chedrawe said all the activity is a good sign.

"This is what we've been waiting for for 40 years — we finally have a city that's moving forward and not backwards," Chedrawe said.

Chedrawe said all the projects showcased at the open house represented more than $250 million worth of construction.

Public engagement needs improvement

"On one end of it, I see a lot of employment to build all this. You see tax revenues for the city in the tens of millions of dollars. From that end, I see great things," Chedrawe said. 

"From the other end, I don't think this format we see here today is proper public engagement. I think it's too much in one room for the public to be able to analyze and properly give feedback."

Peggy Cameron, one of the co-founders of the non-profit community group Friends of the Halifax Common, said she is for development but says it should be in vacant spaces and underused commercial areas.

"It looks to me like the city is carving itself up and handing it over to developers to have ideas about what they would like to do with our city without really having an informed, engaged process where neighbourhoods know this is going on," Cameron said.

With files from Pam Berman