Canadian Martyr’s Site


 Final UARB Decision!!!

We are pleased to advise that we have received a positive decision from the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board with regard to the Ashcroft Appeal re the Canadian Martyr's site. In summary, the Board in their 16 page decision released this morning, accepted Park to Park's submissions and dismissed the Ashcroft Appeal in its entirety. The complete decision may be read on the UARB website.

We are grateful for the excellent work put forward by all. 


 We won!!!

Canadian Martyrs and SMU today issued a joint press release confirming that the University is the successful bidder for the church site at 5900 Inglis  Street, with the transaction closing by the spring of 2017.  
Dr Rob Summerby-Murray , President of and Vice Chancellor of St Mary's university, noted " The acquisition of the property recognizes the shared history of our two institutions, University and the Archdiocese.  The sale will complete St Mary's University's presence as " " the world within one city block. "" 
The Church plan toe move forward with its future redesign and development of their St Thomas Acquinas site. 
We want to thank all our members and friends who wrote letters,  contacted our MLA Labi Kousoulis, our Councillor Waye Mason and others, to bring this to a successful conclusion.  A special thanks to Scott McCrea of Armour Group  and his team for their on going support through the UARB process.  

We are uncertain at this time what St Mary's intends to do with the site, once it takes possession of the lands and buildings in spring 2017, but rest assured there will be community oversite by Park to Park and the "Neighbourhood" at large.  

It took a team and we did it.  Thanks to all. 

Update # 2 The Plot Thickens 

...... on the sale and planned development of the Canadian Martyrs property.  As noted in our earlier update the cancellation of the sale of the Canadian Martyrs property  to Ashcroft Homes looked promising. Many people assumed that the UARB hearing would be cancelled,  Ashcroft out of the picture, and that St Mary's would purchase the property.

However, we noted in ALLNS recently that Ashcroft would continue to pursue both the property and the appeal.  No further information or insights were provided as to how this might occur but it was obvious that something undisclosed was afoot.

With the release of the ALLNS information,  Counsel for both HRM and SMU requested clarification on the ownership of the property and what role the termination of the sale would play in the continuance of the appeal process.

Ms Rubin, Counsel for Ashcroft, commented in a letter to the UARB, that the continuance of the appeal is not based on ownership as that is a private matter between the owner and the developer.  She further elaborated  that what is required to continue the appeal process is that the building permit application was made with the consent of the owner, in this case, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax.  This contention was supported by an email from Deacon Dan Daley provided on November 18,  2016 stating that they have not withdrawn the consent originally given when the building permit application was submitted.   Thus it appears the appeal could continue with the consent of the owner, the Church despite the objections of both the community and parishioners has decided to support the Ashcroft Appeal.

Subsequently Park to Park's Counsel (Mike Scott) asked the Board for confirmation " that an Appeal  Decision will not be made as factual developments have rendered all substantive issues before the Board moot"

Essentially this says that as Ashcroft no longer has any material interest in the subject property,  the refusal of the Development Permit is unambiguously moot, and that a court may decline a case which essentially just raises a hypothetical question that will have no practical effects on the rights of the parties involved.

The Board's  response to all Counsel observed that the Municipal Government Act lays out a process for the dismissal of an appeal and in light of this, they are prepared to treat our Counsel's letter as containing a motion to dismiss the Ashcroft Appeal.  As a result a UARB preliminary hearing will proceed over the next few weeks to allow the Board to determine if the Appeal should be dismissed or continued.

All parties supporting or opposing the dismissal of the appeal must file submissions by Dec 9, 2016.

In the interim the Board has directed that the remaining submissions on the merits of the appeal be suspended pending  their decision on the dismissal motion.  If the motion is not dismissed, the earlier timeframe for a decision on the case will no doubt be extended ...March perhaps.

In terms of community  it seems that  the Church has again misled the residents of the Southend  by issuing a letter to parishioners speaking only to cancelling the sale to Ashcroft and keeping the deposit, however not disclosing the fact that the Church is still partnering with /supporting the appeal by Ashcroft by not withdrawing their consent from the Building Permit Application.  It is  unfortunate that the Church seems intent on maximizing its profit from the sale of the property at the expense of the neighbourhood.  If you would like to have more detailed information please go to the UARB website and check file M07610.


 Many of you have seen or heard in the media that the sale of Canadian Martyrs Church to Ashcroft has come to a halt and that the Church has been advertised for sale in the Chronicle Herald with a two week tender process, closing on November 30.   On the surface that appeared to be promising.  However, we have been advised by our lawyers that Ashcroft is continuing with its appeal to the UARB so we all await the results of that process.  

When there is more information we will provide an update.


UARB hearing completed....decision pending

As Intervenors before the UARB, Park to Park supported the HRM decision to refuse the application for two high rise towers on the property.  Due to the generosity of Scott McCrea we had a lawyer to represent us at the hearing as well as an expert witness in the person of Planning Consultant Bill Campbell.  We especially want to thank everyone who took the time to write letters to the Board.  As the board is a quasi judicial body these letters can carry some weight in the final analysis.  The Board formal hearings were scheduled to run for three days October 25-28. Subsequently and extra day was added and the hearings were completed November 1.  The Board then requested that arguments from each side take the form of written submissions, due from all parties by November 30 and rebuttals from Ashcroft to be received no later than December 7.  The board then has 60 days to reach a decision.  

Even after attending all four days it was difficult to get a read on the possible outcome.  It appears that if only the LUB was used to assess the correctness of the decision it might favour the appellant, however in the context of the MPS it seemedthat the decision would favour the HRM position.  The expert witnesses put forward by SMU and Park to Park explored the broader MPS/LUB context very well .  The HRM position was largely based on the definition of UniversityUse and the fact that Ashcroft could not fully satisify that aspect without some type of contractual agreement with a university .  So in the end we were no wiser and like the rest of the neighbourhood we will have to await the written submissions and the Boards decision.   

While the Vatican has now approved the sale, and it was supposed to close on October 31, it appears the ownership for the moment remains with the Church.  We assume Ashcroft has been provided with an extension until the Board makes a decision. 

What could happen to the Canadian Martyrs Church property if Ashcroft wins its UARB appeal. Let’s stop inappropriate, outsized development in our neighbourhood!

Canadian Martyrs Church – 5900 Inglis Street

Stop High Rise Development on Inglis Street


An Ottawa developer is trying to bend the Halifax zoning rules by proposing to build massive high-rise towers on the Canadian Martyrs Church site, 5900 Inglis Street. The proposal contravenes the intent of Halifax land use bylaws for Inglis Street in Halifax’s South End.  


Park to Park Community Association, the Community Coalition of South End Halifax, and Scott McCrea have launched efforts to rally local residents, city and provincial leaders, and other concerned community groups surrounding Saint Mary’s, and city wide, to protect our residential neighbourhoods from unfettered development and to ensure Halifax planning strategies and zoning bylaws are respected by developers.


Park to Park Community Association, along with the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and Saint Mary’s University, are opposed to the redevelopment of the site presently occupied by Canadian Martyrs Church on 5900 Inglis Street. Ottawa developer, Ashcroft wants to construct two “Fenwick–like” towers, one 27 stories and one 31 stories housing up to 1500 "students" opposite a residential neighbourhood of R1 zoned homes.


The development request has been rejected by HRM’s Planning Department. Ashcroft is now appealing this decision to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) to be heard October 25.  


Ashcroft did not want residents to have a say at the UARB hearing and argued that residents should be excluded from the October hearing and not granted intervenor status. The UARB however, ruled in favour of intervenor status for Park to Park Community Association, along with HRM and Saint Mary’s University.


The Canadian Martyrs Church is situated on a small piece of land surrounded by Saint Mary’s campus with University zoning, U1 and U2, in the Municipal Planning Strategy, that was developed in the 1970’s, at a time when Saint Mary’s University had a close affiliation with the Catholic Church. It has long been understood that the intent of the U1 and U2 zoning was to define the boundaries of the University, not to allow unrestricted commercial residential/condo development on University lands. The Roman Catholic Church has ignored the objections of its neighbours and parishioners and has conditionally sold the property to Ashcroft who want to build high rise towers on the land.


The proposal of such a massive development on Inglis Street is unconscionable and would cause irreparable damage to the entire south end community. Ashcroft and the Roman Catholic Church think they have found a loophole in the development bylaws by insisting that University zoned properties can be used by developers for high rise construction. University zoned lands would be a free-for-all for development if this is allowed – and that was never the spirit or intent of the Halifax Municipal Planning Strategy or the Land Use Bylaws which flow from it.


HRM has faced a number of controversial developments in the past few years that have pitted neighbourhoods against big developers who want to change and bend the zoning rules in their favour. In this case, HRM is trying to uphold the spirit and intent of planning and zoning regulations but the developer is not taking no for an answer and is instead hiring high priced lawyers to fight the City and the neighbourhood.


Park to Park has issued a news release opposing the development of high rise towers on Inglis Street and has appeared on both CBC TV and News Radio 95.7 to talk about this issue. Park to Park has also registered its concerns with Father Mark Cherry, Pastor at Canadian Martyrs Church, Archbishop Anthony Mancini, Archdiocese of Halifax Yarmouth, Most Rev. Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada.

Park to Park will present its case against this high rise development at the October 25th hearing at the NSUARB.  


How the decision to close and sell Canadian Martyrs property to the highest bidder contrasts with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and recent calls from Church leadership

Church Teaching

Local church decision making process

In many of Pope Francis’ recent letters and speeches, he calls for Church reform in the areas of dialogue and inclusion of voices.

There has been no authentic dialogue. Local church leaders manipulated an illusion that parishioners were being listened to in a bogus consultation process. The decision to close andsell Canadian Martyrs was made before the consultation process began. There has been a complete lack of transparency throughout this process and dissenting voices have been marginalized

The pope has spoken out against practices that prioritize short term financial gain and laws of markets over solidarity, common good, and justice. In particular, the pope has spoken out against a "profit at any price" system that has little concern for the impact of decisions onrelevant stakeholders.


Canadian Martyrs is being sold to the highest bid from an Ottawa developer who plans to build high-rise buildings on the site, thus highlighting a criterion of immediate, short-term economic gain. Costs to local community (surrounding neighbours, Saint Mary’sUniversity, the family whose childrens’memorial rests in front of the property, and all those who honour the sacredness of the property) have been externalized and notcommunicated to parishioners.

In On Care for Our Common Home, the pope and his team call for changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns that are out of line with care of creation and global justice (ie., global north benefiting by exploiting resources and not addressing global injustice).

Presentations at parish Town hall meetings have reported using the proceeds of the sale to build a "world class" and "modern" facility at the Saint Thomas Aquinas site.

We are called by the Pope to be "stewards of creation" and to "call public attention to the dangers of an irresponsible exploitation of our planet" and "irresponsible social commitment". According to Pope Francis, "God gave us the earth ‘to till and to keep’ (Gen 2:15) in a balanced and respectful way. To till too much, to keep too little, is to sin". We "require a clear recognition of our responsibility to ourselves, our neighbours, creation and the Creator".


There has been local protest to some of therecent development in HRM at the expense of culture, history, sacred space, and community health and well-being. There has been no indication that the proposed buildings will be built sustainably, be "respectful of creation", or "show care for community". That this is sacred space only makes this particular aspect of ecological sin graver.

My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of robbers. (Matthew 21:13)


Canadian Martyrs Church Sale



Current status of sale of Canadian Martyrs Church property

It is under sales agreement to be sold to Ashcroft Homes of Ottawa. This "twin Fenwick" development will have serious and long lasting effects on our neighbourhood and on your properties in particular – not just from increased population and traffic but potentially a loss in property values and quality of life.

Zoning and HRM Planning Position

This site is zoned U1 with height limit of 38’ and extending approx. 30M into the campus area and U2 in the inner campus which has no height limit. The U zones state a "residence for university students" is allowed in that area not a commercial rental accommodation such as Ashcroft seems to be proposing.

HRM has rejected the Application from Ashcroft to tear down the church and build these two massive towers.  

Unlike an MPS/LUB amendment as we had on Wellington Street with Dino Capital, this project does not go through HRM Council nor can be voted down by our Councillor, Waye Mason, who opposes this application – this appeal is going to the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board, a semi-quasi-judicial hearing process.  


You received a Notice of Public Hearing of this upcoming appeal because

a.You live within 500’ of the property in question. This presumes that this application may/will have an effect on your property.

As stated above, we believe that approval of this application will definitely affect all of us.

You may, as the UARB notice states, participate to speak or write. As it is a judicial type of hearing, we are advised they listen to facts not emotional commentary.

Park to Park Community Association

Your neighbourhood association, established over three years ago will be filing as an Intervenor representing its members.  Some of you on Inglis Street in particular are not members of PtoP and this could be important on how we are perceived by the UARB and the appellant.  

If not a member, we invite you to join our association. Please see section Contact Us; the membership fee is $10. You will be assured of being included in all our communication on this matter and other issues affecting our area, going forward.

This does not mean you cannot participate individually as well.  If you have questions, you can email us at

The time is now and we must speak up and residents of Inglis Street, in particular, must move to protect your properties.

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