Tuesday, Halifax council rejected the Skye Halifax development proposal. Skye was put forward by United Gulf Developments, which had previously won approval, but never built, the so-called Twisted Sisters development on the same site, at the corner of Hollis and Sackville Streets.
The Skye proposal contained two 48-storey towers, dwarfing any other building in Halifax, and utterly violated HRM By Design, the recently adopted planning rules for downtown. Skye was 2.6 times the HRM By Design height limits for the site, and also broke the rules for street setbacks and other massing guidelines.
Critics of the proposal included the city planning department,the Design Review Committee established under HRM By Design, former city planner Andy Filmore and the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, among others. Many of the proponents co-authored a letter to council outlining their concerns, which boiled down to fears that Skye would make a mockery of the HRM By Design guidelines, which cost millions of dollars to produce after consulting tens of thousands of citizens. Moreover, the opponents said, the Skye project was so large that, if built, it would kill all future demand for development downtown for decades.
Those supportive of the proposal argued that there should at least be a public hearing on Skye.
Facing the first controversial item of his term, new mayor Mike Savage took the unusual step of relieving himself as chair of the meeting, and addressed council on the issues, delivering a blistering attack on Skye.
Those voting not to allow Skye to move forward were Savage and councillors Lorelei Nicoll, Waye Mason, Jennifer Watts, Linda Mosher, Reg Rankin, Brad Johns and Stephen Craig and Tim Outhit.
Those voting to allow to proceed to a public hearing were councillors Barry Dalrymple, David Hendsbee, Gloria McCluskey, Darren Fisher, Stephen Adams and Matt Whitman.
Councillor Russell Walker was absent.