Letters to the editor, October 31, 2013

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Cycle snit

In response to Ben Wedge's opinion piece on walking in the October 24 edition ("I love to walk around town, but there are safety issues facing pedestrians," Voice of the City): It is interesting that he failed to mention the hazards pedestrians face from rude and aggressive cyclists.

I have experienced many close calls from cyclists while walking in the city, and on one occasion was run down and ended up in the hospital emergency department. It would be nice if cyclists extended the same considerations to pedestrians that they expect from car drivers. I see far too many adult cyclists riding their bikes on sidewalks in this city.

I own a car but most days I either walk or use public transportation. When I am driving my car and encounter a cyclist, I do my best to respect their rights as well. The only problem is not all cyclists obey the rules of the road. —Anthony Crouse, Halifax

Our money our city

Tim Bousquet is a great reporter and should get a journalism award for his work on writing about mismanagement at the Trade Centre Ltd., the convention centre fiasco and outing the big ways that every level of government has caved to the worst development idea to strike at the heart of downtown Halifax since the last great superblocker, Scotia Square.

The convention centre had an illegitimate beginning with a last-minute change to HRM By Design to allow the developer, uniquely on the former Chronicle-Herald site, to double the height of the two towers from seven and nine storeys to 14 and 18 storeys with any contribution of public money.

This was lied about at the public hearing and only the next day at an in-camera meeting did the then-mayor and council vote to approve it.

On November 21, 2012, provincial auditor general Jacques Lapointe issued a report finding that TCL's projection of significant growth in convention business lacked the analysis and rigour expected for such a significant proposal. The auditor general recommended that government obtain an independent second opinion.

Then-premier Darrell Dexter rejected the recommendation, but Liberal MLA Andrew Younger (now minister of energy) and Conservative leader Jamie Baillie (now leader of the opposition) both supported the auditor general's call for an independent review to verify the data before making a major commitment.

So far the developer has no development plan or permits in place. There are no completed wind or traffic studies. There has been no public hearing about closing Grafton Street even though it's been closed and gone for months.

At a public meeting on Thursday, October 24, the developer for the proposed convention centre asked for more exemptions from HRM By Design bylaws. Rank's proposed new design is wider, higher, fatter, will straddle Grafton Street and breaks multiple city planning policies and regulations. The developer now plans on selling the privatized view from the top two floors to wealthy wannabe condo owners.

The convention centre is being built with the public's money without benefit to the public. The auditor general confirmed that the claim of public benefit was based on faulty information. It's our city and it's our money.

Write to Mike Savage (mayor@halifax.ca) and our new premier (premier@gov.ns.ca) and ask them to follow the auditor general's advice and get an independent review.

Then they can take the public's $378 million and spend it on something with real cultural, economic and social benefit to HRM: a replacement for the Victoria General hospital; affordable housing; public transportation; roads, water or sewage; education; student debt; NSCAD; public washrooms; public parks; public drinking fountains; public benches and/or homeless shelters.

Public money is for public benefit, not private profit. —Peggy Cameron, Halifax

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