‘It’s so jarring:’ Group opposing proposed multi-use towers rallies at City Hall

A group opposing proposed developments near Spring Garden Road and Robie Street held a rally in front of City Hall Thursday morning.

Among those attending was Halifax resident and actor and comedian Cathy Jones.

“The beauty of living here is going to be impacted so strongly,” said Jones.

The developments they oppose are being proposed by two separate developers, which are Dexel Developments Limited and Zzap Consulting Incorporated who are looking to build multi-use towers in the area.

If both are approved, the square in between Spring Garden Road, Robie Street, College Street and Carleton Street could see four towers of varying heights between 16 and 30 stories.

“It’s so jarring and horrible, it’s creating no opportunity for solar on the heritage street behind it,” said Jones.

“The shadows that you get from these buildings and imposition of this kind of thing is significantly ridiculously bad.”

The group maintains that it does not oppose development in general, but wants to look at other ways of doing things.

Member Peggy Cameron points to the Schmidtville area as a prime example of lots of hidden density without the need of high rises.

“Some of the building fronts you walk by on Schmidtville just look like ordinary residential homes,” Camerson said.

“Yet there can be 16 or 20 units in behind there, and the same thing is potentially possible in the Carleton street neighbourhood.”

Cameron said while many argue that development will be good for the economy she said infilling the area with smaller developments can be just as good.

“You can create twice as many jobs doing infill, doing renovations, doing retrofits and it uses half as many materials,” she said.

“It’s not about not having an economy, it’s about how you chose to make the economy go.”

Hadrian Laing is another member of the group and has created a 3D model of the area, including the proposed towers. He said it gives people a better perspective of what the area could look like and even how the shadows will be cast.

He would like to see such models as a mandatory component of the decision making process.

“[It] provides way more information than is currently provided to Councillors and citizens and in doing so everyone can have a better discussion, and we can get more informed decisions.”

The group has also raised concerns that their voices are not being heard and that there is not enough consultation being done in regards to this project.

Spokesperson for the municipality Brendan Elliot said the two developments are still in the early stages of the planning process.

“We encourage citizen engagement at every step,” he wrote in an email.

The next opportunity for the public to speak about these developments is Monday night at 6 P.M. at City Hall.

The Development Options Halifax Group said they will be attending and presenting their 3D model.

Even if Council still chooses to move ahead after Monday night Elliot says that won’t be the end of public consultations.

“The developers will go away and start firming up their plans, which will be included in a proposed development agreement, which again will require a public hearing,” he wrote.

“The approach we’re taking with these two projects is the same as we take with any proposed development. Balancing the desires of developers with the interests of the community.”

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