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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breaking news: Halifax council votes down Waterside development

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 4:38 PM

On a 9-9 tie vote, the Halifax council defeated the controversial Waterside development proposed for the heart of the downtown Halifax historic district. Tie votes are considered a "no" vote.

If approved, the development would have seen the razing of five buildings on a block bound by Upper Water, Hollis and Duke Streets and by the distinctive Morse's Tea building. Like Morse's, four of the buildings---the Imperial Oil building on Upper Water, the Shaw and Fishwick buildings on Hollis and the Harrington building, which spans the block---are registered historic buildings. The fifth building is a younger building that until recently housed Sweet Basil Bistro. The proposal called for tearing down the buildings, save for their facades, and constructing a nine-storey office building in their stead.

The council vote was as follows.

For: Walker, Rankin, Uteck, Adams, Streatch, Karsten, Younger, McCluskey, Snow.Against: Murphy, Sloane, Hensbee, Barkhouse, Wile, Hum, Harvey, Outhit, Meade.Absent:McInroy, Fougere, Kelly.Disqualified from voting because they had missed all or a portion of the public hearing: Johns, Mosher, Smith.

A small irony came with the vote in that that councillor Sloane moved to delay the vote until the council's evening session because TV cameras aren't present for the council's afternoon session, but Sloane was opposed by a majority of councillors, some of whom had stated outright they didn't want the "public scrutiny" of the television cameras. But because Kelly had to leave for another commitment, the yes side missed his likely "yes" vote.

The defeat is a major setback for Armour Group, the developer behind the proposal. Owner Ben McRea is almost certain to appeal the decision to the provincial Utility and Review Board.

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