Nova Scotia

Development rules for urban HRM take step toward completion

Proposed new development rules for urban areas of the Halifax region are in the last lap of a marathon process after council made some amendments Tuesday to prepare for an upcoming reading of the Centre Plan.

Once adopted, plan should eliminate need for development agreements, public hearings in some areas

A multi-coloured map of Halifax's Centre Plan. (Pam Berman/CBC)

Proposed new development rules for urban areas of the Halifax region are in the last lap of a marathon process after council made some amendments Tuesday to prepare for an upcoming reading of the Centre Plan.

Coun. Waye Mason called it a "great day" and Coun. Sam Austin said it would be "revolutionary."

Work on the latest round of the Centre Plan got underway in 2015 and first reading of the first phase, known as Package A, is expected in July, with a public hearing in September.

Once the Centre Plan is adopted, it should eliminate the need for development agreements and public hearings in peninsular Halifax and parts of Dartmouth within the circumferential highway.

A new regional community council will be created to deal with any appeals.

The proposed plan now includes some changes made by regional council on Tuesday.

Chicken coops

When it comes to urban chicken coops, people could be allowed to have 10 hens instead of the six recommended by staff, and the coops may not have to be set back two meters from all property lines.

"I really do think this is the right way to go," said Coun. Shawn Cleary. "The truth is not many people are going to raise chickens."

Cleary also adjusted the maximum height on a development site in Halifax on Oxford Street between Liverpool and Cork streets from 14 to 20 metres.

Regional council then dealt with a list of proposed projects that were allowed to proceed under site-specific applications when the Centre Plan process got underway.

Public hearings for 9 projects

Nine of them will be allowed to continue to public hearings, including a 22-storey tower on Robie Street by Westwood Developments that staff recommended not get approved, but council OK'd it.

"There are some technical details that don't match," said Coun. Lindell Smith. "But I really feel that we should continue, I feel we are getting a good application."

The nine projects are:

  • Case 19281, Robie Street, Westwood Developments.
  • Case 20632, Agricola Street, WM Fares Architects.
  • Case 20658, Bayers Road and Young Street, WM Fares Architects.
  • Case 20159, Victoria Road and South Park Street, ZZap Consulting.
  • Case 20159, Spring Garden Road and Robie Street, Dexel Developments.
  • Case 20761, Robie, College and Carleton streets, ZZap Consulting.
  • Case 20520, Quinpool Road and Pepperell Street, Dexel Developments.
  • Case 20774, Wellington Street, Lydon Lynch Architects.
  • Case 21115, Quinpool Road and Pepperell Street, WSP and Architect 49.

Applications for seven projects were discontinued, so they will be considered under the newly adopted Centre Plan rules.

Austin said he thinks the move will enhance the projects in his Dartmouth district.

"This is not a 'no' list," said Austin. "This is actually a positive list for trying to encourage some new development in the community."

The seven projects are:

  • Case 20158, Duffus and Robie streets, Paul Skerry Associates on behalf of Cousins Restaurant.
  • Case 20830, Victoria Road and Queen Street, Dartmouth WM Fares Architects.
  • Case 2083, Canal Street, Downtown Dartmouth WM Fares Architects.
  • Case 20981, King Street, Dartmouth EDM.
  • Case 20876, South and Harvey streets, WSP on behalf of Southwest Properties.
  • Case 20898, Lucknow Street, Ekistics Planning and Design on behalf of Southwest Properties.
  • Case 21240, South and South Park streets, ZZap Consulting on behalf of Eldorado Properties.

There were two projects that will be dealt with during the second phase of the Centre Plan, known as Package B, which focuses on residential neighbourhoods and generally has height restrictions of three storeys.

Package B is not expected to be approved until the end of 2020.

The two projects are:

  • Case 20669, Kaye and Young streets (former United Memorial Church), Michael Napier Architecture.
  • Case 22399, Dalhousie University setbacks along Coburg Road, Oxford and South Streets.

Contentious hotel development

A 16-storey hotel development along Prince Albert Road in Dartmouth was also discussed.

The project has a long and controversial history and residents are worried the developer will try to convert the building from commercial to residential after the Centre Plan is approved.

They say if that happens, there should be a public process.

"We feel that is reasonable," said Jeff Weatherhead, a resident who lives near the hotel development. "Most regulation, whenever it's brought in, they provide for transitional rules."

Austin has mixed feelings.

"There could be policy implications for downtown Halifax," he said. "I would like to get a more detailed explanation and then we'll see."

Austin asked staff for a supplementary report on how the matter should be dealt with if the developer tries to change the project after the Centre Plan is approved. Austin would like to have the report ready for when the Centre Plan gets its first reading in July.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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