Nova Scotia

Proposal for 23-storey building near Halifax Common to head to regional council

A community council has approved a staff report on an 85-metre-high proposed development on Robie Street in Halifax. It goes to a public hearing at regional council in September.

A public hearing on the Robie Street development will be held in September

The site of a proposed development on Robie Street in Halifax currently has a former funeral home, a parking lot and a single home. The Welsford building is shown in the background. (Google Streetview)

A 23-storey apartment building proposal that is highly unpopular with the residents of a neighbourhood near the Halifax Common will head to regional council for final consideration.

On Tuesday evening, the Halifax and west community council approved a staff report on the 85-metre high proposed development on Robie Street, near Quinpool Road. It goes to a public hearing at regional council in September.

According to a report, 80 per cent of households in the area that offered feedback on the proposal said they do not approve of the building. The most common request was for it to be shorter, and the most common concern was the negative effect it would have on the Common, which is located across the street.  

The staff report, however, said the building should be approved because it "meets the prescribed building form, mass, and land use requirements previously approved by regional council."

7-year history

The building would be located at 2032-2050 Robie St., on land that now holds a former funeral home, a parking lot and a single home. It would include 58 one-bedroom and 44 two-bedroom apartments, and a ground floor of commercial space.

It would stand between two other high-rises, a 19-storey building called The Welsford, and a 23-storey building currently under construction called Willow Tree.

Debate surrounding the proposal is not new. Throughout the past seven years, the building has been the centre of controversy and discussion.

A proposal for the property was originally introduced in 2014, but required an amendment to the Halifax Municipal Planning Strategy and Halifax Peninsula Land Use By-Law. Once the new Centre Plan was approved in 2019, the site was designated as a special area and the proposed development was no longer in violation of city bylaws. 

A revised proposal was submitted in May 2020 by Westwood Developments. 

During a community engagement process that ended in January, 172 households responded, with 139 voicing opposition to the proposal, 26 voicing support, and seven saying they needed more information.

Several concerns were raised, including the height of the building, the shadows and wind it would create, issues with overdevelopment and high density in the area, and that it would not include affordable housing.

Issues raised

Because of the concerns, some amendments were made to the proposed development agreement, such as changes in design to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow at the entrance to the building. 

At Tuesday's meeting, Coun. Patty Cuttell, a member of the community council, raised some of the issues, including concerns that personal and delivery vehicles will impede traffic and impact the pedestrian environment on Robie Street.

The development plans include a two-level underground parking garage, which would accommodate delivery vehicles servicing the commercial space on the building's ground floor. The plan said it would help with the issue of sidewalk and road blockage.

The next step is to hold a public hearing, which will take place Sept. 7. Councillors mentioned if further concerns are presented by the public, they could vote to amend the plans again and then schedule another public hearing.