Density issues abound

In HRM the chickens are coming home to roost – and we aren’t talking about free range chickens, although it looks like some decisions on that front which just add more red tape could be amiss also. No, we are talking about planning decisions of HRM Council where consequences, unforeseen it appears, are now following as night follows day.

The headline “‘Infill madness’ frazzles Uteck” in today’s CH (Province p. B3) caught our eye of course because Wolfville is tending to the same dementia. [emph. ours]

A recent spate of infilling projects in south-end Halifax has a regional councillor mulling a moratorium on new development.

“I have infill madness going on right now, and I’m frazzled,” Coun. Sue Uteck (Northwest Arm-South End) said Tuesday.

Last Friday, Ms. Uteck asked city staffers to come up with some standards to oversee the design of the new developments, which are being shoehorned into old established neighbourhoods.

“I don’t want everything to be replicated, but I want design to make sure that (the new infilling projects) are the same height, scale, and massing as the rest of the neighbourhood.”

The councillor said she understands that it’s all part of a 25-year plan to increase housing density on the peninsula.

This is the same kind of policy that – until stopped delayed by recent resident outcry – was to be embedded in planning documents here.

I bought into it, but I was also promised that we would work on some urban design standards and I still don’t have it.”

How many of our Councillors have “bought into” the ideology? Will they, like Ms Uteck regret their decision?

Right now, there’s nothing stopping property owners from demolishing historic buildings that are not registered as heritage properties, she said.

“HRM is obliged to issue the permit” because the city can’t apply for a heritage designation without the owner’s permission, Ms. Uteck said.

“And, regretfully, I have no authority to stop the demolition.”

That’s hitting home this week, she said, as plans are underway to tear down a large family home on the corner of Jubilee Road and Beech Street in favour of a small subdivision.

Hard to put the genie back in the bottle isn’t it? Our suggestion to our councillors here is not to buy into it in the first place. Our heritage community should be seriously concerned, as should every resident who cares about the ambience of the town. Once it is gone, it is gone. It is no use saying present residents won’t agree to sell for redevelopment. Look down the road 25 years or even half of that. Owners die. Their offspring, who may live in Alberta, or BC, or Toronto, or even Halifax will have no qualms unless there is some protection in the planning documents which will prevent this rapacity.

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