NS: Council to tackle controversial Skye Halifax development

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By Haley Ryan, Metro Halifax

A report from the city’s Design Review committee recommends against amending policies to allow construction of the twin towers on Granville Street — both of which would be more than double the permitted height.

A graphic image of the proposed Skye Towers.

[HALIFAX, NS] — Regional council has one meeting left before the new councilors and mayor are sworn in, and it will include a debate of the already much-debated Skye Halifax project.

A report from the city’s Design Review committee recommends against amending current planning policies to allow construction of the twin towers on Granville Street — both of which would be more than double the permitted height.

Paul MacKinnon, executive director for the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said he wants to see development in the core of the city, but not at the cost of breaking HRM by Design rules.

"We feel strongly about this," MacKinnon said, noting HRM by Design was created with significant public input. “Let’s let the plan work.”

The maximum height permitted for the site is 66 metres, and the Skye Halifax towers would reach 172 metres.

“It’s such a massive change that we feel it would just create a great deal of uncertainty,” MacKinnon said. “And we don’t want to go back to that.”

MacKinnon said approving the current Skye Halifax plan will set a precedent for circumventing HRM by Design.

City staff are recommending rejecting the United Gulf project and mayor-elect Mike Savage told News 95.7’s Rick Howe he was not in favour of the proposal as it currently stands.

A report going to council from the Design Review committee highlights five violations of existing planning policies in the new proposal, including the violation of the Citadel Rampart View requirements and of street and boundary setbacks.

Organizations: Design Review committee, Downtown Halifax Business Commission, United Gulf

Geographic location: Granville Street

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  • Alex
    October 30, 2012 - 14:58

    My first comment is in regards to Mr. Mackinnon - letting the plan work would involve having a plan that indeed works. The plan itself doesn't work so letting it 'work' as he says means leaving the core to stagnate. The Halifax peninsula only allows for a limited number of foundations to be poured in order for density to thrive - what we put atop those foundations matters; whether it be a short stubby building or a tall and sleek one does indeed matter. Everyone knows that affordable construction means building up rather than out. My second comment is in regards to the HRM by Design policy. 1) There is a clause in the policy that allows for exceptions to height and Skye Halifax meets those requirements. 2) HRM by Design did certainly involve much public input; input from a very narrow demographic that included 90% retirees. The very same demographic that will burst our health care budget as they grow older and without a strong work force to support them, the situation will only worsen. So I would ask Mr. Mackinnon, and Mr. Savage if they prefer a downtown that makes housing affordable (through denser, taller buildings) so that young talent stays here to work, play, and live or whether he cares more about upholding the status quo that has lead to the decay of our downtown, urban sprawl, echo boomer exodus, and an even more uncertain economic future for our younger working generation - who by the way were too busy working to express what they need out of the cities plans for the future when the hugely skewed 'public input' was gathered for HRM by Design.