[Sust-mar] Media Release: Friends of the Halifax Common
c.majka at ns.sympatico.ca
Mon Jun 9 12:30:01 EDT 2008
Media Release: Friends of the Halifax Common
Wake up to the value of Public Green Space
(Halifax, NS): Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) are calling on Mayor
Peter Kelly and HRM counselors to stand up for public open green
space. One year after the group formed to actively campaign to
reclaim, preserve and protect the Halifax Common as provided for in
the 1994 Halifax Common Plan, they believe the situation has only
deteriorated for the public area bounded by Cunard, South, Robie, and
North and South Park streets.
Of particular concern to the FHC this week are two pubic meetings on
two new building proposals where important decisions impacting the
Halifax Common will be made.
“At 19 stories, the proposed Fares Tower on South Park is 4.5 times
the allowable height- instead of three street level houses, there’ll
be a building casting shadows and creating winds on Victoria Park and
the Public Garden,” FHC member Sheilagh Hunt, explains, “And yet
because the tower is near those same green spaces, instead of
insisting the landscaping be complimentary to the existing streetscape
as both the Halifax Common Plan or common sense would suggest, HRM is
willing to excuse the developer from meeting the landscaped open space
requirement so they can build right up to the side walk without adding
a single blade of grass.”
“With respect to Dalhousie’s Brain Repair Centre, the FHC believe any
portion of the old Grace Maternity site not used for building has to
be landscaped to reflect the fact that it’s Halifax Common land,” said
Ms. Hunt, “The city needs to be creating more green space, not less,
and certainly not paid-parking lots.”
At its core, the 1994 Plan commits HRM to retain the amount of
public open space in the Halifax Common; to retain the amount of land
owned by the city; and to seek to increase the amount of land under
city ownership through recapture of Common lands. Despite clear
recommendations as to how this is to be accomplished HRM has not
reversed the erosion of the Common; one-third of its original 235
“It’s mysterious to me how in HRM’s apparent desire to become world
class, it continues to ignore the revival of the peninsula’s core
green space,” said Beverly Miller, co-founder and co-chair of FHC.
“Broadly based public consultation created a clear, long-term vision
in the 1994 Plan but instead of taking that lead, the city is turning
what could be a masterpiece of landscape architecture into parking
lots and buildings, framed in concrete.”
Examples of Common land abuse include: converting the former Grace
Maternity Hospital to a Dalhousie pay-parking lot in 1996; building
the IWK pay-parking garage on the former Civic Hospital site; turning
the former School for the Blind into a VG pay-parking lot; and most
recently giving part of the Queen Elizabeth High School to Capital
Health for the new Infirmary Emergency building.
"Halifax is renowned for its beauty and unique lifestyle, but instead
of strengthening and enriching cultural, social or environmental
assets like the Halifax Common, our elected officials have ignored the
Friend’s effort to have the decades of decline and neglect reversed,"
said Peggy Cameron, co-chair, Friends of Halifax Common.
The FHC co-founder recently visited New York and observed that an
urban environmental consciousness was evident everywhere. “All over
Manhattan there’s either a revitalization of existing public green
space, like in Central Park, or a major increase in public green space
like at Battery Park. Halifax is easily twenty years behind on
creating safe, beautiful and inviting public spaces for community-this
year’s budget doesn’t have a dime for trees,” concludes Cameron.
Tuesday night’s City Council meeting (6:00 PM) will look at the
proposed 19 story Fares Tower on South Park and thursday night’s
Dalhousie University meeting on the Brain Repair Centre, sited on
Halifax Common land.
The Regional Plan wants 15,000-20,000 more residents on the peninsula
by 2025 without any plan for additional open space.
The three volume 1994 Halifax Common Plan is available at: www.Halifax.ca/real_property/HalifaxCommon
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For more information contact:
Beverly Miller, FHC Co-chair and Executive: 902-429-9540
Peggy Cameron, FHC Co-chair and Executive: 902-258-3354
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