Nova Scotia

Views split over Skye Halifax

A proposal to allow two 48-storey highrises in downtown Halifax is getting mixed reviews.
The towers were designed to give the impression of boat sails. (United Gulf Developments Ltd.)

A proposal to allow two 48-storey highrises in downtown Halifax is getting mixed reviews.

Skye Halifax is a development proposal for Granville Street. At 48 floors, the two towers would be the tallest in the city — 16 storeys higher than Fenwick Tower.

That's also more than twice as high as HRM by Design allows for that section of downtown Halifax.

Nearly 100 people turned out for a public meeting about Skye Halifax last night.

Phil Pacey, with the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, is concerned the two towers would affect the view from Citadel Hill.

"The Citadel really is one of the chief attractions of Halifax, one of the ways Halifax really is a world-class city and to do anything that would interfere with that would be very unfortunate," Pacey said.

Tony Edwards, a local history writer, is also against the development.

"It's incredibly stupid to propose a building like that when it's so clearly against the already existing planning rules," Edwards said.

But the project has its supporters.

Stephen Patterson said he supports the development because he believes it will encourage more young people to live downtown.

"We need some vibrance in our city. I've been to cities all throughout the United States with my work where they've had a lot of stuff happen... and it's been through projects like this," he said.

Anna Murphy agrees. She said the city needs to grow, "and I think this is one of the ways to do that."

"I don't care how many towers there are and I really don't care how tall is it. I just want it built. I want things built in this city because right now we're stagnating. The city is stagnating. Nothing gets built," said Kendra Barnes.

The project by United Gulf Developments Ltd. would cost $350 million and include condominiums, hotel rooms, restaurants and retail space.

In a recommendation to Halifax regional council earlier this year, HRM staff said the project should not be approved as is because of the height cap. Nevertheless, council voted 14 to six to proceed to the next phase in the approval process.

Staff will study the proposal again and report back to council this fall.

This is United Gulf's second shot for a development on the former TexPark site. The $150-million Twisted Sisters project was approved in 2006 but never built.