Nova Scotia

Advocate supports staff rejection of Southwest plan for former YMCA site

Peggy Cameron of Friends of Halifax Common says the development has received enough concessions.

Peggy Cameron of Friends of Halifax Common says the development has received enough concessions

The proposed development will include apartments and a new YMCA fitness centre. (Southwest Properties)

An advocate for regulated development is applauding a Halifax staff report rejecting a design proposal for the former YMCA and CBC site.

The developers of the proposed $140-million twin buildings, which will include a new YMCA fitness facility, want at least 14 variances to design bylaws. City staff recommended the design review committee reject almost half of those in a report released Friday.

Peggy Cameron, a co-chair person of the Friends of Halifax Common advocacy group, says her commendation of the staff report isn't anti-development. 

"The problem would be that the developer has already gotten a lot of concessions at that site," Cameron said.

Building allowed to be double height limit

Before developers Southwest Properties and Toronto's Streamliner Properties Fund Ltd. came on board, regional council approved permission to build at South Park Street and Sackville Street double the height limit.

Although councilors voted unanimously to pass the exemption, Coun. Bob Harvey called the project a "17-storey elephant on the corner of Sackville Street."

"My concern is the exception will soon become the rule," Harvey said at the time

The design pitch by developers proposes extra width and depth for towers, which the report rejects. 

The rules allow for some flexibility in design, but are "not intended to increase building volumes," the report said.

It also criticized one tower's proximity to the existing Paramount apartment building on South Park, which Cameron supports.

"If you're being neighbourly, you want to give your neighbours breathing room," she said.

Southwest's President Jim Spatz noted Friday that the Paramount building has no windows on that side, so the closeness of his development wouldn't block a view.

Exchange for variances

Cameron also says she'd like to see developers either pay more or add public art in exchange for variances that give them more room.

"Each time that we give away more space to developers, they're making a higher profit and the city isn't really benefiting," she said. 

The design pitch and the city staff's recommendation to reject it will be considered by the Halifax design review committee Thursday.


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