Nova Scotia

St. Pat's High School site meetings need more notice, says resident

There are fears city planners may be rushing the public into consultation meetings about three new designs for the site of former St. Pat's High School on Quinpool Road.

3 new designs for St. Pat's High School site to be unveiled tonight at Halifax Forum

Janet Stevenson, who lives behind St. Pat's High School on Lawrence Street, says she’s leery of the city’s choice to schedule tonight’s meeting because many people are away on vacation this time of year. (CBC)

A Halifax resident says city planners are rushing the public into consultation meetings about three new designs for the site of St. Pat's High School on Quinpool Road, where demolition work is underway. 

Janet Stevenson, a lawyer who lives nearby on Lawrence Street, says she's leery of the city's choice to schedule tonight's meeting at the Halifax Forum in the middle of July. 

"Many people are away," Stevenson said.

"We got a letter on Monday telling us about a meeting on Wednesday. It's not appropriate notice. People need to plan, people need to read up." 

St. Pat's High School closed in 2007 because of asbestos tiles and insulation throughout the building. There's also mould, mercury and lead.

Stevenson says tonight's meeting won't give the public enough of a chance to influence city planners or their predetermined designs. 

"I don't want to be cynical. I don't want to think that the city is deliberately planning a meeting when they know people aren't around but that's how I feel," she said. 

"I'm very concerned. Although it's billed as public consultation — it's not."

First time for everything

City planner Jacob Ritchie says having increased public engagement for property designs is a first for Halifax. 

"We've been asked by council to look at how we could dispose of this property. We could sell the property and in the past, we've sold properties with very little consultation with the public."

But he says residents who are planning to attend tonight's meeting and weigh in on the new designs shouldn't be concerned this is their only chance. 

Halifax city planner Jacob Ritchie says tonight's meeting marks the first time the public has been given the chance to provide more input into city property designs. (CBC)

"It's not that it will be the final concept, I think what comes back in September is our next phase to explain what we learned in this consultation this week." 

Ritchie says the city has worked hard to developed the three designs with a consultant.

"This time we really want to talk to the public and make sure they know what's coming before we even enter into an agreement of sale."

While public consultation is a good thing, Stevenson says, residents should have had more input into the the designs before tonight's meeting. 

"And so am I optimistic that I'll go tonight and see something appropriate for St. Pat's? No, I'm not." 

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