Intelligent design?

Mike Fleury is making plans

Three urban planners from the city-driven planning project HRM by Design dropped by The Coast on Tuesday to discuss the future of the Regional Centre (roughly, downtown Dartmouth and the Halifax peninsula). The group, made up of HRM’s Urban Design project manager Andy Fillmore and two representatives from the Toronto-based design firm Office for Urbanism, has spent much of the week gathering public opinion about how to direct future downtown development, how to improve public spaces in the city and how to fix some of the design problems that already exist in this town.

What problems, you ask? The HRM by Designers cited a few examples: sprawl, which has spread development to the wilds of Bayers Lake and beyond and subsequently choked the growth of the downtown core; low population density (also a symptom of sprawl); an abundance of vacant downtown properties; inconsistent building designs living side-by-side (“heritage vs. height,” as they put it); an emphasis on using cars rather than public transportation…

We couldn’t help but mention that the public has already given their opinion on some downtown design projects, and not always with satisfying results (parked a car near the corner of Spring Garden and Queen lately?) But before you throw up your hands and give up, there’s still a chance to toss in your two cents.

Although the formal opinion-gathering phase of the project has ended, I bet if you went to HRM by Design’s week-ending public presentation—happening tonight in the Potter Auditorium (Dalhousie’s Rowe Management Building, 6100 University Avenue), starting at 6pm—you could get a word in. Just grab an urban designer and start making recommendations. It doesn’t have to be anything too grand or overarching. Want more bike racks on Barrington? Say so. Want to see a commuter train from Bedford? Let ’em know. Think the Cogswell interchange stinks? Tell them why. We did, and you should too.

Ill communication

The four-year war of words between cardiac researcher Gabrielle Horne and the Capital District Health Authority (The Coast, May 4, 2006) isn’t over. The only certainty is that the cost to taxpayers—currently estimated at more than a million in Authority legal fees alone—will go up.

Last Friday, a board panel ruled that the hospital didn’t have any justification for the October 2002 emergency “variation” of Horne’s privileges that triggered the conflict and effectively ended her “globally pioneering” heart research career.

But instead of apologizing for screwing up, the panel—without hearing any evidence—proceeded directly to spin control, claiming Horne’s supposed lack of collegiality made her the author of her own misfortunes. And Capital District’s interim CEO, John Malcolm, piled on in interviews, dissing both Horne and her lawyer Ron Pizzo.

All of which will likely up the damages ante when Pizzo files a lawsuit against the board in the next few weeks.

Let’s see…killing a multimillion-dollar research project…wrongly accusing a doctor of being a danger to patients…attacking her personal reputation…refusing to apologize…continuing to blame her…. Damages could be high.

And remember, it’s all coming out of your healthcare budget.

Make you sick? Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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