Thanks for your thoughtful reply. My mistake about the deck-headline. When I read it this morning, I thought it read... 'The architecture VERSUS development debate moves out of the downtown core with a proposed Windsor Street seniors residence.' You can imagine my confusion. Anyway, my bad. I'll try to wait until after coffee before I post comments next time.
I totally understand that neighborhood character is worth defending. I'm not advocating for tall buildings, just good urban design principles that will make the city I love even better.
Glad to hear that you will continue to report on this story. A thoughtful discussion of these issues is exactly what the city needs. I'll be reading.
Sean, your subtitle makes no sense. The conflict exists between NIMBYs and developers. Furthermore, the media seems to be missing the big point about this (and other) developments. It's not the height that matters most, but rather, how the development interacts with the neighborhood at street level, and whether quality design and materials went into it. Whatever gets built, we will be stuck with it for a long time, so the emphasis should be on quality.
I attended the meeting, and Tim is right, there was a lot of concern about traffic and private viewplanes. I had good intentions of speaking in favour of the plan, which gets a lot of things right (density, transit, recreation, green principles), but I thought better of it when I heard how upset some of my neighbours were about their own views and the height of the proposed buildings, and about traffic levels, which everyone seems convinced are on constantly on the rise, despite traffic studies that indicate otherwise. I also wonder whether there isn't a little bit of xenophobia about those future apartment/condo dwellers (hey, they're people too!).
I encourage interested parties to read the plan and email Paul Morgan (HRM planner, firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide feedback before April 2nd. There are legitimate things to criticize in the draft master plan, but I'm really excited about the potential recreational opportunities and future hookup to the waterfront trail network (although I'm sure that that I'll be an OLD man before the trail is complete!).
Most of all, I would like to re-focus the discussion on what we have to gain by carefully designing a vibrant village centre. I suspect that urban design is really not on the minds of most Birch Cove residents, but I want the planners/developers to know that some of us are keenly interested in high quality design and materials, and village centre that maximizes the potential of this site.
And I'll try to muster the courage to speak up at the next public meeting :)
My wife and I moved to Halifax four years ago and bought our first house in Birch Cove. We feel very lucky to be here. There's a nice mix of young and old, and a lot of community spirit. A great example of this is the (now quite liquid) skating rink that Chris Harrington and other community members build every year on the lot near the intersection of Kearney Lake Road and Bedford Highway. But this, and St. Peters Anglican church, are really the only gathering places. I see huge potential in this proposal to create a new village that will provide more places for us to meet and hang out and enjoy the neighbourhood.
I'll be at the meeting on Monday, with an open mind. I like the roundabout, and as long as it doesn't significantly compromise pedestrian safety, I'm all for it.
The biggest potential upside for this project is the potential for public interaction with the water. Bedford Basin is beautiful, but let's face it, the Chinatown parking lot isn't. I hope people don't fixate on the roundabout and tall towers (ack! not again!), and instead think about how great it would be to walk on the boardwalk and watch the sunrise/sunset, or use the trail. Someday, in the distant future, I hope that the waterfront trail will be completed all the way to Bedford (I'm not holding my breath for a link to Halifax). How great would that be for a morning run?
And whatever happens, we should try to make sure there's space somewhere for the community rink. It's important.
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