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HRMbyDesign Presents Downtown Plan to Committee of the Whole
(Tuesday, March 24, 2009) - Today HRMbyDesign’s Downtown Halifax Urban Design Plan will be presented to HRM Council’s Committee of the Whole. This will be the first time all members of Council will have the opportunity to view the Plan in its entirety. The objective of this presentation is to introduce the contents of the Plan to members of Council in preparation for First Reading of the Plan in two weeks, on April 7, 2009.
The final plan is arriving at Council after nearly two years of public consultation with thousands of HRM citizens and key stakeholder groups, and deliberation of the Council-appointed, citizen based Urban Design Task Force and HRM staff. Most recently, three Committees of Council, including the Urban Design Task Force, the Regional Plan Advisory Committee and the Heritage Advisory Committee, have recommended the Plan to Council for consideration of adoption. All three Committees overwhelmingly recommended forwarding the Plan to Council following deliberate discussion and analysis of the Plan’s content and impact by each Committee.
The key impact of adopting the proposed Downtown Plan will be a change in the development approvals process in downtown Halifax. Development agreements that are currently used to negotiate major development projects in downtown Halifax will be replaced by site plan approval, which includes an as-of-right component and a new design review component. The introduction of design review into the development approval process is key improvement over the existing process, which includes little consideration for building design. A new Design Review Committee will be established by Council to review and make decisions on major developments in the downtown. The Design Review Committee will consist of professionals from design, engineering, city planning, landscape architecture, as well as a citizen at large.
In addition to changes to the development approval process, HRMbyDesign’s Plan contains an enhanced heritage protection program. The primary improvement over today’s heritage protection policies is the establishment of the Barrington Street Heritage Conservation District, as well as the identification of two future heritage conservation districts (HCD) in the Historic Properties and Granville Mall area, and Barrington Street South. Heritage conservation districts enable the Municipality to implement stronger demolition controls, design guidelines and financial incentives to encourage heritage restoration. The three proposed HCDs in the Downtown Plan would protect 70% of the registered heritage buildings in the plan area, significantly increasing protection of those buildings from what exists today.
Buildings outside of heritage conservation districts will benefit from: new design guidelines for development next to, or integrated with a heritage resource; the prioritization of the Regional Heritage Functional Plan by Council for the provision of improved financial incentives; encouraging new heritage registrations through a proactive marking program; and, by working with the Province to strengthen demolition controls as part of the Heritage Strategy for Nova Scotia.
The Downtown Plan also includes provisions for increasing housing affordability, improving downtown transportation, and encouraging sustainable design of buildings and public open spaces.
HRMbyDesign’s Plan represents the vision thousands of HRM citizens share for downtown Halifax, and it will create the vibrant, liveable, sustainable and beautiful downtown in which people and businesses want to live, play and work.
For more information:
HRMbyDesign Project Manager
490-6495 or 488-6095
490-5057 or 476-6464