September 2010 - visitors to Citadel Hill enjoying the view.

Many news items on this topic are published in The Coast, The Chronicle Herald, Metro News etc. with some updates to the Facebook page "Help Save the View from Citadel Hill".

 

Save the View (STV) is a coalition of eleven non-partisan groups that support smart development for downtown Halifax. Smart development is culturally, socially and environmentally sustainable and it has open and transparent citizen participation.


The coalition is opposed to the proposed P3 convention centre for downtown Halifax because it isn't smart development on many fronts.


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See updates on Facebook

Due to the volume of postings we have moved most of the posting activity to the Facebook page "Help Save the View from Citadel Hill".


Background

In November 2012, the Provincial Auditor General, Jacques Lapointe reported that market projections for a new convention centre provided by TCL lacked the analysis and rigor.  He recommended an independent review.  Both the Liberal Andrew Younger and Conservative Jamie Baillie supported this request.  Then Premier Dexter did not.  The AG’s report supports earlier conclusions by STV. The coalition knows from research that the convention centre industry is in decline, that all levels of government are short on money for core-services and that TCL’s Internal Report: "Market Projections for a Proposed New Convention Centre, June 2010" is seriously flawed. It incorrectly cites increases in international conventions, in the Canadian share of these conventions and in the attendance whereas in each case the source documents show decreases. Misinformation in the Internal Report of Trade Centre Limited of June, 2010 ) 

The Convention Centre continues the path set out in its illegitimate beginning when in a last minute policy change in HRMbyDesign, the new plan for downtown, a new clause was created so that the developer could double his towers from 7 and 9 storeys to 14 and 18 if he received any public money.  The building will block the view of George's Island from the roadway on Citadel Hill.  


Rank Proposal, Key Points:

Rank Inc. is asking HRM to allow Rank to take views away from the public and to sell those views to wealthy tenants in two towers in front of the Citadel.

Rank is asking HRM to take a block of Grafton Street away from the public and to allow Rank to use it as the exhaust-filled entrance to a hotel lay-by and a parking garage.

Rank, which was given an exemption in 2009 to build two towers above the mid-rise height limit for the area, is now asking to be allowed to double the volume of those towers. The towers would dominate nearby heritage buildings, including St. Paul’s Church, a National Historic Site.

Request:

That staff recommend that the application be rejected and the planning rules be upheld.

Possible Outcomes if the By-law is Upheld:

1. Rank may go back to the smaller towers and design approved in 2009.
2. Rank may seek an alternative design complying with the mid-rise height limits of HRMbyDesign.
3. Rank, HRM or the Province may abandon the convention centre idea, saving the taxpayers most of $378 million.

List of Violations to the By-laws:

Rank Inc. has asked HRM for permission to drastically change the design of the proposed downtown convention centre and to break the rules of HRMbyDesign in many ways.

A. The newly proposed building would be much bulkier than allowed.

HRM by Design provided for a 28-m height limit on these blocks before Rank requested and obtained a last-minute exemption (Appendix “B”) to allow a specific design of the proposed convention centre development. Rank is now seeking even greater exemptions, for towers that would be wider, higher, and bulkier.

  • Newly proposed east tower: 64 feet or 26% wider, and 2.23 times larger area of each floor than the floors in the tower previously proposed.
  • West tower: 16 feet higher, two storeys higher, 30% larger floor area.
  • Total volume above Grafton Street: 30% larger.

B. The new proposal would exceed the post-bonus height limit of 28 m.

  • The total volume of the proposed building above the 28-m limit would be 3.9 million cubic feet, which is 2.08 times larger than the volume of the building shown in the By-law.

C. The proposal would encroach on Grafton Street, cover over part of Grafton Street, and break the streetwall setback rule.

D. Six faces of the proposal would exceed the allowed streetwall height of 15.5 m (50.9 feet).

  • Argyle Street, 66% higher than allowed by the by-law.
  • Prince Street, east block, 58% higher.
  • Prince Street, west block, 18% higher.
  • Sackville Street, east block, 35% higher.
  • Grafton Street, east block, 3.2 times higher.
  • Grafton Street, west block, 3.5 times higher.

E. Stepbacks would be deficient.

  • Sackville Street, east block, 68% less than required by the By-law.
  • Grafton Street, east block, 66% less than required.
  • Grafton Street, west block, no stepback.

F. Tower widths and depths would be too great.

  • East tower: 2.46 times wider than normally allowed by the By-law.

G. The requested amendments would not be consistent with the Design Manual.

The Design Manual, in Precinct 6, Upper Central Downtown, encourages “low to mid-rise mixed use development while respecting the historic block pattern”. The proposal would not be “low to mid-rise” and would not “respect the historic block pattern”. 

When the by-law was adopted, some people thought that a convention centre would be a public benefit. Now, the Auditor General has shown that this claim of public benefits was faulty; no public benefit can be claimed. There is no reason to approve the exemptions.


 

Below are 8 good reasons the P3 convention centre is a bad idea:

1/ The deal has fundamentally changed from a construct, operate and maintain deal to a construct only deal with language that an entirely new, seemingly TC-like agency, will be set up to operate the facility. There is no indication of what this will cost. 

2/ The money still makes no sense. The annual HRM cost was to be $5.1 million, now it will be $6m for construction, operation and maintenance, but this figure is not substantiated in any way and only the construction cost is known. 

3.  The annual facility upgrade and maintenance costs were to be paid to the developer.  These were fixed and were about $1.45 million for HRM.  It appears the operator can now go to the open market for these costs which might lead to lower or higher costs but greater risk.

4.  The operation and maintenance agency does not even yet exist. And no matter what this does not end up equalling 1/3 of the costs if the Feds are contributing 51 and HRM is contributing $150.  

5. The developer has gone from being required to complete the whole project to being required only to keep the Province updated on progress. That's a whole deferent deal.  There is no guarantee the two towers would be completed at the same time as the convention centre-all that is required is core and shell-the penalties are small and this could affect tax returns to HRM.

6.  There is no requirement that tenants be new to HRM.  If they move from other office buildings, there is no tax benefit for HRM.

7. The real and limitless cost of the thing in the long run includes the cost of "marketing" and this is now just rearing it's head with the note the HRM needs to contribute $40k to a prebuild marketing campaign just to promote this unpopular idea in Nova Scotia. 

8. HRM is potentially stuck owning (and therefore not receiving tax) on the existing convention centre. This was identified as a problem form the beginning and is still not resolved.

 

 

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Since May 2009, the Coalition to Save the View from Citadel Hill has focused on three criticism's of a proposed underground convention centre in downtown Halifax. Save the View wants:

1/. smart development for the downtown with a sound business case;

2/. proper public participation in the development approval process; and

3/. all new buildings to be financial and environmentally sustainable.

YouTube: Podium TV - Halifax Convention Centre... Sept. 2010

Part 1 - Introduction by Peggy Cameron, presentation by Phil Pacey Part 2 - Andrew Harvey followed by Beverly Miller
Part 3 - Allan Robertson
Part 4 - Judy Haiven

 

 

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