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Old Posted Mar 2, 2012, 9:41 PM
Hali87 Hali87 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 3,475
I was there. The main speaker was one of the architect/planners who worked on Toronto's Avenues plan, and discussed that plan in detail and how those principles could be applied here. The concepts were pretty well received, I would guess in large part because it allows the city to densify significantly without building anything over 12 floors.

The public seemed polarized over heights as always, and sadly, there were several speakers who got up and said "Is anyone thinking of the Citadel? That is why tourists come here. We shouldn't have tall buildings. We shouldn't try to be like Toronto". Etc. At the same time, others commented that the viewplanes and ramparts bylaw should at least be revisited, that we should be focusing MORE than 25% of growth in the core (what happens when gas is $5/L?) and what I thought may turn out to be the most important comment, is someone said "we throw around the word heritage all the time, but we never define it. We need to decide what we're actually talking about when we talk about heritage." Truth.

I asked the panel whether they thought HRM by Design should be revisited. I said that the YMCA controversy demonstrates that the height limits do not make economic sense and that even the developers who genuinely want to give back to the community can't afford to with the rules the way they are, simply because they cannot produce enough square footage with the current height limits. So recognizing this, should we revisit the height limits, taking into account the levels of density required for development to be viable, or should we leave them the way they are for the sake of clarity? The session was running late and there was only time for a response from one panel member, and she said no we shouldn't look at changing them. They don't have to break the rules just to break even; there's cheaper ways to build.

However, it caused a bit of a buzz in the room and I'd be surprised if this doesn't come up in the next series of meetings. All in all I'm pretty optimistic about the process. There are certainly more than a couple STV representatives but I think if there is an appeal to reason, as there was with the Dartmouth Cove sessions, that the plan might not have the traditional no heights at all costs dogma. I certainly plan to, and I've been writing down my thoughts and trying to put things more eloquently (this post is not a good example as I'm very sleep deprived right now). I should mention that I'm not the type who just wants to see more tall buildings, I really just want to see more density. However, I don't think height should be the starting point for what is and is not allowed. And I think the ramparts bylaw is not the right approach - it looks great on paper and in theory, but it's absolutely a case of the city putting tourists before its own citizens, and thinking it knows what those tourists want, when really half the tourists who come here don't even know there's a fort.
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