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Bloomfield community blooming 

Residents and renters have their say about the Bloomfield Centre on Agricola and Almon.

About 100 Halifax residents caught a glimpse of a concept plan for the redevelopment of the Bloomfield School site at an open house last week, kicking off a month-long review period before the concept plan goes to HRM council for approval in mid-January. The plan proposes a remake of the Bloomfield block into a public square or green space surrounded by a perimeter of townhouses, street-level retail development and two residential towers. With an underground parkade to accommodate more than 400 cars, the project would mean gutting the current site, with the exception of the two 1920s-era buildings, which would be extensively renovated to accommodate community and arts groups.The tone was occasionally tense as residents questioned various aspects of the plan. Some worried the green space located in the centre of the block would be either cut off from the surrounding community, or unappealing to the hundreds of people living in new apartments and townhouses. A few requested an increase in affordable housing (now at 20 percent) or the incorporation of lower income housing in the mix. Still others wanted more evidence of public transit and alternative transportation capacity, such as bus lane turnouts and bike parking.Lois Miller expressed concern over the focus on arts and cultural programming in the master plan. Miller, executive director of 17-year Bloomfield tenant Independent Living Nova Scotia, said the organization has “enjoyed being part of the community that included artists over the years. But even better, we’ve enjoyed being part of a diverse and inclusive community that included seniors, youth, sports groups, arts groups, people with disabilities, people dealing with mental health issues---a wide range. I want to know that that will be able to continue in this revitalized space.”Miller, along with Canadian Mental Health Association representative Marg Murray, wants to stay on as a tenant in the redeveloped Bloomfield. “We have a beautiful club and we would want a similar facility,” said Murray of the Caring and Sharing Social Club, a Bloomfield mainstay serving adults experiencing long-term mental health problems. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” A handful of speakers focused on the positive. “I was at a lot of the meetings where people were giving their input,” said area resident Jeff Fish. “I see that input up there.” Despite his own list of items missing from the plan (a green roof, less parking and a larger community centre), Fish seemed happy to see the master plan move forward, particularly as a self-financing project. “I’m asking for it to be self-sustainable because I want it to happen sooner,” something that can’t happen if the project relies on government funding, said Fish.“I don’t think it’s all there,” said Fish, “and I think you guys agree that there’s more work to go. But I’m proud of the fact that everyone is here and contributing. I’m proud of the fact that we’re coming together as a community.”HRM manager Peter Bigelow said the process could take two to three years. “There’s a lot of track to lay after council makes a decision,” said Bigelow. “If we’re going to move in this direction, there’s market analysis, rezonings, requests for proposal for potential partners around the construction and development. There’s the refining of the public program for the site, the green space design. To get down that track is 24 to 36 months, and I think that’s optimistic myself.” The Bloomfield Centre Master Plan is available at Halifax Public Libraries and on HRM’s website, Send your feedback to HRM at

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Vol 25, No 42
March 15, 2018

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