Comments on WTCC2

Proposed WTCC2 Nova CentreI just posted this on the Coast site in a thread about Tim B’s article about WTCC2.

The blocks that the Convention Centre proposal would occupy are in Upper Central Downtown (precinct 6) of the Downtown Halifax Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy, the result of HRMbyD for downtown.

You can see on the Map 4, page 83, that the maximum pre bonus height for each block is 22 meters. So the most you would see would be 7 3 meter storeys, though probably more like six storeys. Hotels and residential usually need less space per floor than offices.

Policy 18 of the SMPS says “HRM may consider a variety of public benefits when assessing site plan approval applications seeking a height bonus in exchange for the provision of public
benefit”

So if the property had a lot of bonusable items – some low income housing, for example, it could gain up to 28 meters more in “bonus height”. This is outlined on the bonus Map 5 on page 84. So if these were 3 meter floors you’ed be looking at 13 storeys max, but really a modern building is going to be more like 4 meters, so you are looking at 10 storeys.

What Tim is talking about is Policy 89. It reads in part “Notwithstanding the foregoing policies, where a proposed amendment addresses unforseen circumstances, or is deemed by Council to confer significant economic, or social, or cultural benefits to HRM beyond the bonus zoning provisions of this Plan, such amendments shall be considered by Council at any time regardless of
the schedule for reviews.”

Policy 89 overrides the 40 meter height restriction and is designed to be the extra big bonus for someone doing something like the Convention Centre. With out it, 10 stories. With it, 17 stories. That is a hell of a subsidy. Then you pile in $100 million dollars for the Convention Centre. Even more of a massive subsidy.

It frustrates the hell out of me when pro-WTCC2 supporters say “only a couple dozen people support the “Save the View” people”. That may be true in terms of facebook support, but thousands of people participated in HRMbyD, the consensus policy document on how to move downtown forward.

I thought then and think now Policy 89 is a horrible mistake, but if we are going to use it to override all the good work on height and design in HRMbyD can we at least call a spade a shovel, and admit that 7 extra stories of height is in fact a subsidy?

You can read the SMPS here: http://www.halifax.ca/capitaldistrict/documents/DHSMPS.pdf

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