Question Asked, Question Answered

What would you like to see on this property on Robie Street, north of Quinpool Road?

I gather something is soon to replace what’s there now. Yes? I’ll begin by attempting a respectful answer to your disingenuous question. Why disingenuous? Because the question invites me to believe anything is possible, when that’s clearly not the case. But do try again.

A 25-storey mixed residential and commercial project has been proposed on Robie Street, north of Quinpool Road. Would you modify it if you could? And if so, what changes would you suggest?

tower_and_parker-street_houses

Let me say this. I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for more than 35 years. My wife and I have raised our family here. In truth, I’m more interested in my home and community than I am in this building. My greatest concern is the neighbourhood and the unintended consequences this 25-storey building will have for life here as we have known it.

But that isn’t the whole story, is it? In fact, truth be told, this 25-storey building is just one of a suite of very large buildings that have been proposed for the intersection of Quinpool and Roble. You see, I wasn’t being unfair. It seems your question was a bit like an onion. It had many layers and was far from innocent. Furthermore, I happen to know there was more to it than that. Apparently, if I bite on your question by suggesting a few modifications and giving the building a 6 out 10, unwittingly I’ll also be giving a nod in the direction of the proposed development at the intersection of Quinpool and Robie, as well as the soon-to-be-cleared St Pat’s site. So, you see, yours was no ordinary question. It was a fully loaded question, a veritable cornucopea, pregnant with possibilities. Perhaps I could have a go at your question myself? Here goes:

A pair of tall, multi-storey, mixed residential and commercial projects has been proposed for the intersection of Quinpool Road and Robie Street. What would you like to see – here?

As it stands, HRM has all the powers and authorities it needs to ensure that, even as it is granting reasonable concessions to the proponents of these two projects, it has minimized their potential for collateral damage while ensuring and enhancing the well-being of the community. This includes its invaluable stock of mixed-income, mixed-tenure housing, its civic assets such as Halifax Common and Welsford Park, and the Quinpool Road Commercial Area. Therefore, in answer to your question:

I would like to see the spirit as well as the letter of Halifax’s Municipal Planning Strategy applied, both to these proposed buildings and to the adjacent and surrounding residential communities, its civic assets, and the Quinpool Road Commercial Area.

I would like to see the Halifax Regional Municipality apply all its powers and authorities in a thorough and rigorous evaluation of these proposed buildings to ensure they are of the highest quality and that their combined environmental performance is optimized, their environmental impacts minimized.

I would like to see HRM’s powers and authorities applied without prejudice, both to the proposed buildings and to all of their potential impacts – physical, aesthetic, economic, social, cultural, vehicular (transit, parking, traffic), infrastructural, and environmental – to ensure compatibility with the adjacent and surrounding residential communities, civic assets such as the Halifax Common, the Citadel, and Welsford Park, and the Quinpool Road Commercial Area.

I would like to see HRM’s powers and authorities exercised such that the host of benefits and concessions requested by the proponents are demonstrably necessary, and most importantly, that they are demonstrably compatible with and to the mutual benefit of the adjacent and surrounding residential communities, civic assets such as the Halifax Common, the Citadel, and Welsford Park, and the Quinpool Road Commercial Area.

Question asked, question answered.

J. Grant Wanzel / 25 May 2015

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