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Letters to the editor, August 1, 2019 

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Towers and power
I loved Devin Radcliffe's message in last week's Coast ("Ground zero," Voice of The City). It was a positive and inspiring look at Nova Scotia's intrinsic wealth and natural beauty, and how we could address the current climate crisis by switching from our fossil fuel-powered plants to sustainable options like wind and tidal power. But it was in high contrast to the announcement of another developer's dream—several huge towers of concrete to be built filling the entire block of Robie Street-Spring Garden Road-Carlton Street—in a news item on the same page. This means more wind tunnels, more traffic and parking nightmares. May city council not be seduced by "development" and NOT approve these proposed towers, one of which is 26 storeys tall, dwarfing everything in the area! —Linda V. Lewis, Halifax

Emergency shelters, transition and supportive housing, subsidized housing—these are terms used by developers and councillors when talking about affordable housing. But what they're really talking about is vulnerable populations that need help with the most basic of needs. And that is a challenging truth the city must address.

There is another reality as well. Affordable housing is also for modest income, young or old, single people and families—all the rest of us!—who contribute to the stability and life of a neighbourhood. It's not exactly the way affordable housing is being defined now, but it's not separate, either. Affordable, cared-for housing in peninsula neighbourhoods. Currently as rare as healthy ice cream.

In early July I attended a city council meeting concerning the Robie-Spring Garden developments. I had no intention of speaking, but by the end I just had to toss in my two cents. Dozens of people attending begged council to consider alternative ideas put forward by the group Development Options Halifax, which council had been ghosting for months, or simply to consider factors like sun, wind and heritage before approving multiple towers in the centre of Spring Garden. Please! At least increase the "affordable units" percentage from five to a more realistic 25 percent. Please!

My spontaneous contribution was basically saying I'm terrified as I walk around the city seeing these developments of $350,000 condos rise up, or apartment units for $2,500 per month. My demographic needs rentals at $1,000 per month, and young families need $800 per month. I begged the councillors to consider alternatives, echoing almost every other presenter.

Then council addressed some of the concerns we brought up. One member waxed poetic about how the 8,000 new people moving to the city every year will look in awe at these beautiful towers and want to live right there. I want to know how many of those 8,000 awestruck new people will come in with $120,000+ a year jobs to afford them.The rest will be in awe at the dismal options available around $1,000 a month, more likely what they'll be able to afford, with roommates, on minimal wages. It feels like a caste system developing in town, inadvertently or otherwise.

Council then went on and approved everything requested by the developer. And my email of frustration to Waye Mason, my councillor, afterwards was answered with yes, we're working hard on the vulnerable populations. There is no middle way, apparently. At least not until we go looking for one. So I'm asking our local leaders to look. Dear councillors: Keep Halifax unique and beautiful. Don't be greedy. Be creative, be resourceful and even be open-minded. Please!! —Pam Gaines, Halifax


Correction
Last week's "Cannabis review: What indica and sativa mean in a hybrid world" piece by Lucy LaPlante contained several inaccuracies that have been corrected in the online version. To wit, Aqualitas, the licensed producer of Reef cannabis, is not the first LP to grow organically in Canada, as we reported, but it is the first to receive the cannabis-specific Clean Green agricultural certification. Also, the koi fish used in Aqualitas's "pesticide-free aquaponic system" live out their natural life span at Aqualitas, rather than being sent, as we said, to aquariums at homeless shelters. And cannabis grown in the aquaponic system isn't on the market quite yet, even though we claimed Reef's Ebb & Flow is raised aquaponically. We apologize for the errors.

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