Charlottetown council sees how things are done in Halifax

Dave Stewart
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Public meeting on waterfront amendments to zoning bylaw Feb. 20

Halifax waterfront from

Senior managers and councillors in Charlottetown went on a waterfront design fact-finding mission to Halifax recently.

It’s all part of the process of building towards a comprehensive waterfront master plan, which just happens to be the subject of a public meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Charlottetown Hotel.

Coun. Rob Lantz, chair of Charlottetown’s planning and heritage committees, said they met with Halifax and Dartmouth politicians as well as the local waterfront development firm, essentially the equivalent of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation.

The tour was hosted by Dartmouth-based Ekistics Planning and Design, the consultant working with the City of Charlottetown on its waterfront master plan.

The Charlottetown crew heard about the history of the Halifax waterfront, growing from a time when retail shops struggled when few people lived near the water to what it is now — a destination for locals and tourists.

“We got a real good sense of how well organized they are and their relationships with government and how everything works over there,’’ Lantz said.

Day two of the Halifax-Dartmouth tour was spent with Southwest Properties, a prominent development company that is well known for its work on Bishop’s Landing. It is considered to be a high-quality collection of shops and apartments.

“That’s a pretty shining example of how to do things right. (Ekistics) described Southwest as first-class developers that go out of their way to consult the public on their own prior to getting their permit process underway.’’

One of the carrots Southwest dangled to entice people downtown was free rent.

“Southwest basically gave everyone free rent for a year until they got a critical mass on the waterfront and now all their shops are really, really successful.’’

Charlottetown is working its way towards writing a waterfront development plan into the zoning and development bylaw. The new waterfront plan will present a 20- to 30-year vision for the area south of Water Street and west of West Street.

The plan will see buildings no higher than four storeys on Water Street and capped at six storeys everywhere else — unless developers can demonstrate some measureable public benefit in their plan to allow for greater variance.

Ultimately, this style of planning is known as a form-based approach with rules set out for the style of cladding, street-facing design requirements, heights and waterview sightline preservation. In other words, developers will have a clear, defined picture of what the ground rules are ahead of time.

“The consensus from staff and the six councillors who were there was it was the best set of meetings we’ve ever attended.’’

And there is one principle that Ekistics keeps drilling into the councillors — it they have to wait for market conditions to change to make the right kind of development possible for the waterfront then do it.

“Ekistics kept repeating to us — no development is better than bad development,’’ Lantz said.

Organizations: Charlottetown Hotel.Coun, Charlottetown Area Development Corporation.The, Halifax-Dartmouth

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Halifax, Dartmouth Water Street Southwest Properties West Street.The

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Recent comments

  • Gerard W.
    February 18, 2013 - 10:18

    This is all so REDICULOUS, The Halifax municipality have a population of over 300 thousand. All of P. E. I. has a population of only 140 thousand. anyway, It all amounted to a little winter holiday at the expense of the Charlottetown taxpayer...

  • Mike
    February 17, 2013 - 16:16

    I find it funny how we always look to the "Big City" of Halifax for advice. Let's face it Halifax, is nothing more than a big town. Why don't we look to places like Quebec or Montreal for guidance? I'm sure they could provide better ideas.

    • huh
      February 18, 2013 - 22:08

      Its got a population of around 400,000. So we'll have to disagree on the definition of a "big town". But what does population have to do with anything, anyway? The place has a waterfront which at one time had little appeal. It was successfully redeveloped. So why wouldn't Charlottetown take a look at how they did things? Good ideas only come from cities with a certain population?

  • nitpicker
    February 17, 2013 - 15:26

    1) Who gets to decide? Your elected representatives. That's what they are elected to do. 2) why plan something to simply "put it on the shelf for a few years"? 3) Jumping the gun? I thought I read that the Charlottetown waterfront plan will take upwards of 30 years to fully implement. 4) Why look at Halifax's model? because their model has been successful for their waterfront.

  • hugh
    February 17, 2013 - 13:05

    Halifax encompasses a large area thanks to recent amalgamation, including Dartmouth, Bedford, and Cole Harbour. Ch'town needs to expand to include Stratford and Cornwall.

    • merge the maritimes
      February 17, 2013 - 20:42

      All of PEI is the same size as Halifax County. Halifax County is a single municipality. PEI should be a single municipality. We should be a single municipality with 15 municipal councilors and a mayor within a larger province of the Maritimes. We would have about 4 MLAs and 1 MP. That's how to reduce this island's problem of over-government.

  • The Furby Crime Enterprise
    February 17, 2013 - 11:53

    Not sure if Furby has given the the go ahead.

  • Bill Kays
    February 17, 2013 - 10:00

    "Ekistics kept repeating to us — no development is better than bad development" but who gets to judge or decide if it is good or bad development. After you develop this plan, let's put this "plan" on the shelf for a few years, then go back, look at it again and see if it really makes sense. I am opposed to jumping the gun with these important decisions 1) that will put the taxpayers (my children and grandchildren) on the hook for debt incurred to go forward with this, 2) that will allow a few business owners to profit at taxpayers expense (much like what is happening now). As far as Halifax goes, ask some of the residents of the city if their expectations were met or if their concerns were just steam rolled over) 3) Have promises been made to support the current development /developers? 4)Does this project have to go forward, who does it benefit, and why do the taxpayers have to pay for it and pay to sustain it? Halifax's model is OLD OLD OLD, why look at it?

    • To Bill Kays
      February 17, 2013 - 20:00

      Bill is there any chance you are going to sell or give away your computer any time soon? I see you comment on every article on the Guardian, and it's always negative. Your glass is not half empty, it's totally empty. I don't know why I read your comments, they depress me.