Halifax City hall through the memorial arch
Municipal

North West Planning Advisory Committee Public Information Meeting, Jan. 20, 2021

 | January 20, 2021

Who said what (paraphrased): 

Editor’s note: I was only able to dial into this meeting, so there was no video. Most of the members of this committee are not councillors, so I don’t necessarily recognize them by voice. I will try and be as accurate as possible, but I can’t be sure on this one. 

Chair: This is a public meeting, on to the staff presentation (this is an old presentation of the site from June 12, 2019, but it contains some of the same basic info)

Darrel, city staff: The applicant is looking for a municipal planning agreement change and a development agreement (Case 21946). The role of HRM staff in this process is to help the developer through this process, researching the proposed development, and recommend courses of action to the council. No decisions will be made tonight, and none have been made before tonight. (He’s giving a presentation that relies heavily on being able to see the slide show, which I can not, over the phone) They’ll have to do a lot of work on the land to build on this site (northwest corner of the intersection of Bedford Highway and Southgate Drive). We’ve heard a lot about where the garbage will go, they’ve fixed that, we’ll talk about it later.  

WSP rep: We had some issues with the slides (I’d say, I can’t see them! Haha but seriously these presentations rely heavily on following along visually). We’ve heard that there are concerns that this structure will impact the view of the water, but that’s not the plan. 

Chair: (Is going over the rules for public speaking again)

David Arthur, public speaker: I’m familiar with the two sites, I’ve seen many development agreements for this property since 2005, and I hope this one succeeds. It’s regrettable that we can’t meet in person. I like that this building isn’t going to look like another strip mall. The front of the building looks nice, but the backyard is the backyard of a commercial business, but it’s the front yard for neighbouring condos. The roof of the commercial building will have heavy equipment on it, the backyard would have garbage storage. I’d like to request that the back of the commercial building is designed with the knowledge that it’ll be someone’s front yard. 

Bill Taylor, public speaker: My main concerns are about the five-story residential building. The proposed driveway for the new building almost collides with the driveway of my building. I’m worried about the amount of parking that will happen on Southgate Drive since there’s a lack of visitor parking. 

Helen Anderson, public speaker: My concerns are about the five-story building. I understand it’s going to be apartments with 228 people and 73 units. We are next door, have fewer people and more parking spots. I’m worried about street parking and accidents. I’m worried about how they’re going to change the topography, are they going to hammer it down for years or blast it? Will an assessment be done of my building to make sure ours wasn’t damaged in the terraforming? 

Sergei (missed last name), public speaker: If everything proceeds as described, when would the construction commence? 

Janet MacMillan, public speaker: The view is a large concern, so I’m glad it’s a one storey building. Has the developer considered a green roof? I’m worried about the view of the back of the building though. How it’s landscaped would be a huge concern for us. I’m glad it won’t obstruct the view, for the most part. I’ll send in a letter. 

Rosemary Samson, public speaker: I’d like to commend the developers of the residential building, it compliments the Tides building next door. I’m also worried about the parking. Since the development was started, there’s been a bus stop that’s gone in front of the Tides. This is only going to increase the amount of traffic on Southgate. There’s a lot of school busses that go up this road, for Bedford South and the Francophone school. I’m concerned about the lack of parking spots for the new development. There’s not enough parking. There really should be parking on only one side of Southgate. I’m also concerned about the traffic flow that’s coming from the highway. The traffic at the corner is fast, and it’s almost a blind corner. It would need some traffic quieting. I like the building, but I’m worried about parking. 

Richard Ward, public speaker: My main concerns are 1) the noise from commercial activity at the commercial building, especially exhaust fans, 2) the lack of parking at the residential building. 

Alphonsus (Al) Forgeron, public speaker: We’re in agreement with most of what’s been said. The concern that my wife and I have, as we’re part of the older crowd, the sightline going downhill isn’t very long. It could lead to safety problems. The new building will increase the traffic and have a new entry, which will make things less safe. In the commercial building, we like the colour of the roof that’s across the way, but I hope you don’t do a bright red roof, that really stands out against the harmony of the area. 

Brad Walker, public speaker: The apartment building, it’s a six-story building, not a five-story building, with the penthouse, and it’s only allowed a five-story max. The density, you’re wanting is 73, but in that area, you’re only allowed 57 units. The TIS (Traffic Impact Statement) says that you’re decreasing the trips by 20 per cent, but you’re increasing the people by 40 per cent. 

Paula McInnes, public speaker: I have some concerns, amending the MPS (Municipal Planning Strategy), would that impact other areas once the amendment was approved? Would future developments be able to get this density? The apartment building, what kind of shadow casting will occur to the residents ‘to the right’ of the apartment building, how will that affect the houses on that side. The number of apartments seems to be kind of high? From the street, you’re going up five stories? 

Austin something, public speaker: I’m just here to listen. 

Chair: Back to the planner for answers to these questions, Darrel? 

Darrel, city planner: The back of the commercial building, the commercial building uses can be negotiated as part of the DA (Development Agreement). If there’s anything that’s too noisy or too smelly, then we’d not allow it in the development agreement. The roof of the commercial building will be flat, and anything on the roof would be visible, but there are ways to make them nicer to look at. They’re going to make sure the garbage isn’t visible. There’s a problem with seagulls (it’s right next to the harbour, and seagulls are spiteful birds!). With driveways, there’s a certain distance they need to be from traffic lights, so I’m going to send that to traffic for an answer. When it comes to parking, usually traffic says guest street parking isn’t an issue because that’s what the road is designed for. However if residents from the building park on the street that’s an issue. The number of residents in the building, 73 units and 101 parking spaces is a generous ratio when compared to downtown and on the peninsula (peninsula also is more walkable and has better transit service) but it’s in line with the IMP (Integrated Mobility Plan). The number of people living in 73 units doesn’t affect the number of parking spaces (… what?). The school board wasn’t concerned about bus dropoff in the area, but I can reach out to them. For changing the topography of the site, how would that be done, Jared? 

Jared, WSP: I don’t think we’ve determined how to do the terraforming, but I think it’d be a combination of both, we haven’t done construction planning yet. 

Darrel, city planner: There’s an administrative order governing blasting and rock chipping. They have to inspect neighbouring properties. And we have a department that deals with that. Construction starting will take a while, December of this year would be fast. 

Jared: We’re waiting on approvals. 

Darrel: So it’ll depend on permitting. A green roof has not been discussed at this point, I don’t know how the applicant feels about it, but it’s not a requirement of the city. 

Jared: With the slope we’ll have to take a look from top of the Tides building, but I don’t think the line of sight would allow people to see the back of the building all that well. 

Darrel: (I missed some stuff due to technical difficulties on my end) — People turn right onto Southgate really fast, there may be a speeding problem on Southgate, but the Traffic Impact Statement, that the underground parking and guest loop exceeded the minimum distances required, so visibility up and downhill is ‘considerably more’ than required for the allowed speed of the area. Noise is common to all construction, but we have rules governing it. 

Chair: There were questions about exhaust fans and trucks making deliveries.

Darrel: No one wants exhaust fans. The only way it can be dealt with is making sure an efficient model is installed. We can limit trucks with development agreements. 

Chair: The only other question I made a note of, was density, that you were allowing 73 units when the MPS allowed for 57. 

Darrel: I have that double-underlined! I’m not aware of the 57 unit restriction, I haven’t seen it in my policy review, if the caller could send that to me, because I may have missed that, that’d be great. 

Outhit: Maybe it’s the density that was initially attached to the site? 

Darrel: I can’t remember it from anywhere. 

Outhit: It seems to ring a bell for me. Darrel, I think the best thing to do with the commercial building is gear the DA to ‘professional services’ so it’s not a restaurant or anything. I am concerned with parking there, you can’t park at a bus stop and people don’t like walking. I’m concerned about the number of parking spots. I’m interested in green roofs though! There’s a formula we use for density, can you just make sure that it’s not the 200? Is this five stories and a penthouse or five stories and mechanical stuff? 

Jared: It is proposed to be a ‘penthouse’ penthouse and a mechanical penthouse. 

Outhit: Can you address the number of units? I think we can calculate that. 

Darrel: We can, I don’t have it in front of me. 

Brad Walker, public speaker: I found the 57 units in the MPS for Bedford, as amended on Aug. 11, 2019, page 82, under RN-3A (damn, he’s good). 

Darrel: Does amending the MPS affect other areas? No, they’re only for these two sites. She also had a question about the shadows being cast, we didn’t require a shadow study for this building. We usually require them for taller buildings. That’s the end of my list. 

Chair: My list too! Thanks to everyone who called in.

*Meeting adjourned*