Park to Park successful in obtaining funds at the May 19 vote.

The process, Participatory Budgeting, was initiated in Halifax in 2013 by Councillor Mason. In 2015 residents from District 7 were invited to two meetings – the first was an open exchange of ideas on how to spend the $94,000 allocated to the process and to encourage groups to submit projects beneficial to the community, and a vote was held at the second. 

Park to Park Community Association submitted an application for funding through this budgetary process.  Our project application asked for funding to provide signage for Gorsebrook Park that would briefly outline its interesting history and make people aware of its importance as multi-season multi use recreational area utilized by residents of all ages and for two more benches to provide a place for just sitting and enjoying the Park.  We propose to locate the signs at three park entrances – Lundy’s Lane, Robie Street and Inglis Street. We presented our project on May 19th at the Central Library among 14 others. Over 300 residents of the district turned out to vote.  We placed 7th and were successful in obtaining $4,500 for our project. The next step will be to work with City Parks and Recreation to design the signs and decide the location of the benches. 

We have since (May 30) had a meeting with Councillor Waye Mason to discuss implementation. 

Our thanks to all who supported this more step towards making our neighbourhood a better place. 


R-2A update

The Halifax and West Community Council requested a staff report detailing possible amendments to the Land Use By-Law, so as to include habitable room limits, as well as other items. A staff report (Case 19595: R-2A (General Residential Conversion) Zone Amendments was prepared. November 26, 2014 a public information meeting was held and completed recommendations were presented to Community Council. A letter ( below) stating our concerns was submitted to Council. At the Public Hearing  held on May 13, 2015  Park to Park Community Association addressed Council and reiterated our concerns. 


Ref:  Case 19595: R-2A (General Residential Conversion) Zone Amendments (letter to Council) 


We are writing on behalf of Park to Park Community Association. The genesis of our association, now over 85 South End members, was the challenge and disappointingly, subsequent approval by Regional Council of an inappropriate high rise development on Wellington Street. We believe community oversight is essential to ensure that the character and integrity of our neighbourhoods in the South End are preserved.

We therefore wish to comment on the proposed changes to R-2A zoning in our area.  We applaud the Community Council for requesting that these changes be reviewed by staff and, as well, thank staff for their diligence in preparing these changes. They are needed! In the past we have commented that Wellington Street is under siege. It is not alone. Many small, neighbourhood streets in our area and others will suffer that same fate if current R-2A rules and the growing use of inappropriate MPS amendments are continued. Change is in the wind with the Centre Plan but still only a promise. As with Park to Park, other groups are now forming to respond to development concerns all over HRM, and in particular on the Peninsula. Halifax was and hopefully will remain a city of neighbourhoods enjoyed by all. This will only happen if we respond to development pressures now.  Map 1 attached to the staff report for Case 19595, shows that the majority of the R-2A zoning is in the South End, originally established to protect our wonderful neighbourhoods while allowing for appropriate increased density. For our R2A Neighbourhood this means.......following clear rules and good enforcement for those that don't.

We request that the R2A changes proposed be approved and passed as quickly as possible.

There are many improvements in this report which we support. Specifically, we are commenting on theintroduction of habitable rooms as opposed to bedrooms as a method to control density on our neighbourhood streets. The introduction of R-2A did not mean allowing high density through loopholes. Habitable rooms is a good start, but we have the following reservations which will still allow for the increase in population density of the area beyond what had previously been envisioned and is currently envisioned by these amendments to the Halifax Peninsula Land Use By-Law.

  1. The changes proposed do not provide adequate protection when an application is put forward for an R2 use in an R-2A zone. In the LUB, the R2 refers to "bedrooms" and makes no reference to "habitable rooms" and we see no reference to proposed changes to the LUB Section 43A(1) Three and Four Unit Buildings. This would still allow a developer to apply for an R2 use in an R-2A zone and to have far more "bedrooms" by also having offices, media rooms and libraries, etc. yielding many more "bedrooms" than stated in their plans. A prime example is a recent construction on Wellington Street of a four unit townhouse complex with approval for 10 bedrooms in total, 2x2 bedroom units and 2x 3 bedrooms units.  However, when advertised the total potential bedroom count was stated at 28 not 10.  HRM staff when questioned indicated that until beds were actually in the rooms nothing could be done. A complaint to the real estate board resulted in the listing text being changed to delete mention of the number of bedrooms. They were also advertised for rent and when rental rates were requested, they reflected the rooming house nature of the development. Over site is essential. This brings us to our next concern.  
  2. Density – there are no guidelines, not even now, under R-2A zoning for density controls. R3 (high density) zoning permits 250 persons per acre.  The bulk of the R2A zone is defined as low or medium density with no indication of what this means. The introduction of habitable rooms instead of bedrooms is helpful but still requires a density definition to be meaningful. And finally,
  3. Enforcement – as stated above, HRM staff have no obvious guidelines for checking on multi unit houses/apartments to ensure that only maximum allowable bedrooms are in fact used as bedrooms. What is the guarantee, post construction, that these new guidelines will be enforced? Will there be inspections? 311 complaints are not an adequate enforcement tool for habitable rooms. Halifax has many fine, reputable landlords who do comply with guidelines and respect the neighbourhoods they build or renovate in, but what of the others! If rules are to be effective, adequate enforcement is a key component.

In summary, we request that R2 uses in an R-2A zone be amended to complement and reinforce the good work of staff on this current document. And, we further request that adequate enforcement including spot inspections/meaningful fines be instituted to ensure rules are followed and our neighbourhoods are not further denigrated by the proliferation of what can only be called high density rooming houses. The neighbourhood and the city deserve better.

We work hard on enforcing parking why not city livability. 


New Future Investment Proposal

We have been advised that Banc Properties has purchased the houses in question from New Future Investment.  The Fares Group is no longer involved.  It is our understanding that new plans may have been submitted to the Planning office and a case file opened.   The houses currently appear to be rented and it seems a commercial parking lot may be in operation behind three of the homes.  The houses are generally in a state of disrepair leading us to surmise they will be torn down at some point for a development.  According to the draft Centre Plan the area will be zoned for 4-6 story residential development not the current 35' heigh limit.  More to come. 


As mentioned at our AGM on June 23, some of our Board members were invited to a meeting with the WM Fares Group who are shepherding this application through the system.  The architect, Jacob JeBailey presented the plans for a 9 storey multi unit building on 5-6 lots north of Peter Green Hall.  Unlike the Dino application the plans presented provided for a townhouse style street wall and wedding cake design as specified in the Downtown Design Manual.  They advised us they would schedule a neighbourhood meeting to share these drawings and receive feedback before submitting plans to the Planning Department.  

This however, did not happen and Planning has advised us that an application has been received, but it has not yet been opened as a case – possibly due to incomplete information. This is the same developer responsible for the the new townhouses on the north end of the street. 

The Fares Group has not contacted us but it is still possible that the developer intends to hold a neighbourhood meeting to preview design details etc. in order to get feedback from residents prior to the official Public Information Meeting (PIM).   

We will advise you of the case number and any other pertinent information as it becomes available. 

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