Regional Plan Overview – by Councillor Watts

Councillor Watts sent this email to her email list yesterday night and I thought I would share it with you, it is a great summary of five of the key areas of concern for the regional plan review.

I would urge all residents to review the draft Regional Plan www.halifax.ca/planhrm/RMPSDraft2.html   and make comments and suggestions during the public consultation phase that will end on June 28.  The Regional Plan is the guiding document for HRM on how we develop and grow as a municipality.

Five issues that I have identified that may be of interest to residents in District 8 include:

1)      Greenbelting

How we will grow as a municipality is a key issue.  We are not currently meeting growth targets set in 2006 with more growth happening in suburbs and rural areas.  Debate is whether we need defined boundaries for where growth can happen (greenbelting model) or whether there needs to be flexibility in growth in suburban/rural areas and promote growth in urban areas by using incentives for development.    Central to this debate is whether greenbelting is a planning tool (flexible) or whether greenbelting controls growth and defines clearly where growth will occur and where it will not. Greenbelting is being used by cities around the world.  Why this is important:  economic sustainability (recent Stantec report indicates huge cost implications leading to potentially higher taxes and fees in HRM for growth that happens outside of urban core due to costs of water/wastewater service and new road development, etc) and environmental sustainability.  Will proposed direction in plan (using greenbelting as a planning tool) effectively manage growth to respond to economic and environmental challenges?  Read more about this here:

·         Draft section http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/CHAPTER2Draft2RMPS.pdf

·         Draft Section http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/CHAPTER3Draft2RMPS.pdf

·         Fact sheet  http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/GreenbeltingMay30.13.pdf

·         Stantec ‘s Quantifying the Costs and Benefits to HRM, Residents and the Environment of Alternate Growth Scenarios

Power Point http://www.halifax.ca/boardscom/documents/HRMGrowthScenariosFinalReportPresentation04192013.pdf

Final Report

http://www.halifax.ca/boardscom/documents/HRMGrowthScenariosFinalReportApril292013.pdf

·         HRM Alliance http://www.ourhrmalliance.ca/1-use-greenbelting

 

2)      Bayers Rd Widening and Third Harbour Crossing:  Regional Road Network

The planned widening of Bayers Rd to 6 lanes between CN bridge and Connaught and 4 lanes between Connaught and Windsor is still in the plan.  I proposed a motion that no work on this project be undertaken in the next 5 years and that priority be given to developing a dedicated bus lane on Bayers Rd but this motion was defeated at the committee level.  Work is being done on the dedicated bus lane on Bayers Rd and a proposal will come to Regional Council soon but the widening is still a planned project.  The third Harbour Crossing project is still in the plan with clearer definition for a proposed crossing (bridge or tunnel) at Highway 111 in Woodside to Robie/Hollis Streets – this project would require over $1 billion dollars to complete and there has not been a specific debate on this proposal at Regional Council.  There is also revision to road designations on the peninsula – see Map 8 – that may impact local neighbourhoods.  Road widenings and harbour crossings for single vehicle cars are huge financial investments that can prevent HRM from significantly investing in sustainable transportation.  A lot of work has been done to shift the focus of transportation off of single occupant cars but the impact of the  reclassification of roads in Map 8 of the plan is a cause for concern.

Read more about this issue here:

·         Draft section http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/CHAPTER4Draft2RMPS.pdf

·         Fact Sheet http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/RegionalRoadWorksMay30.13.pdf

·         Map 8 http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/Map8-RoadHierarchyClassificationRP5.pdf

 

3)      Housing Affordability

HRM will look for opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations, the Province and/or the Government of Canada to support housing affordability.  HRM will also support housing affordability through proposed policies and regulations including creating opportunities for mix of housing types; reducing lot frontage, size and parking; permitting secondary suites or auxiliary dwelling units; introducing incentive or bonus zoning in Regional Centre; and allowing infill development and housing densification.  The question is whether HRM can do more to support affordability?  Reliable and efficient transit can play a role in making home ownership on the peninsula more affordable if families don’t need a second car or even one car.  Your ideas?

Read more about this here:

·         Draft Section http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/CHAPTER3Draft2RMPS.pdf see page 20-21

·         Fact Sheet http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/HousingAffordabilityMay30.13.pdf

 

4)      Transit and Active Transportation

Proposed direction is to concentrate improvements and focus on quality and reliability of existing transit in strategic higher density locations such as the peninsula.  An urban transit service boundary is proposed that would define where Metro Transit would provide services.  Dedicated bus lanes, queue jump lanes, transit priority at traffic lights as well as links to active transportation are all proposed.  Transit oriented development that has transit facilities integrated is also proposed.  A key theme for active transportation (AT) is to build connections between existing AT system and expand the routes in the urban areas and to build a greenway system (multi-use trail system)in more suburban and rural areas.  There is little detail in the plan on how AT will be implemented but the recent public consultation on the review of the AT plan has generated some great ideas to update the current plan and expand the AT network in HRM.  These new recommendations will come to Regional Council in the fall.  It is important for residents who support Transit and AT improvements to speak clearly about this in the regional plan consultations.

Read more about this here:

·         Draft Section http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/CHAPTER4Draft2RMPS.pdf

·         Fact Sheet http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/PublicTransitMay30.13.pdf

·         Fact Sheet  http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/ActiveTranspoMay30.13.pdf

 

5)      Regional Centre

Proposal is for a new Regional Centre plan for Halifax peninsula and Dartmouth within circumferential highway which would mean new zoning regulations.  The goal is to create more density in existing areas that have services (roads, water, wastewater), protect existing neighbourhoods, further preserve heritage and improve sustainable transportation options.   Tools to increase density include more development along defined corridors (higher heights); reducing lot frontage, size and parking; permitting secondary suites or auxiliary dwelling units; introducing incentive or bonus zoning in Regional Centre; and allowing infill development.  The public consultation process could change under the new plan with the rules being set during this phase and then no further public consultation (site plan approval process versus current development agreement process).  There is also an intent to invest strategically in order to leverage other funds to enhance development in the Regional Centre although there will no longer be special recognition for the capital district or key downtown commercial areas in the regional centre. How do you want the regional centre to grow?

·         Draft Section http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/CHAPTER6Draft2RMPS.pdf

·         Fact Sheet http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/documents/RegionalCentreMay30.13.pdf

I encourage you to read the full draft of the plan and to send comments to HRM.  If you are unable to attend a meeting (see below), connect with the ongoing RP+5 process through social media at facebook.com/PlanHRM and @PlanHRM on Twitter, or submit a letter by June 28, 2013, via email at PlanHRM@halifax.ca or regular mail to Halifax Regional Municipality, Regional Planning office, 2nd Floor, 40 Alderney Drive, PO Box 1749, Halifax, NS B3J 3A5.

 

You can also copy me Jennifer.watts@halifax.ca and/or other councillors at clerks@halifax.ca

The other sections of the plan include:  Environment, Energy and Climate Change; Settlement and Housing; Transportation; Economy and Finance; Regional Centre; Culture and Heritage; Water Services, Utilities and Solid Waste; Implementation; and Appendices (includes Maps).

Public Consultation Meetings

Monday, June 10North Preston Community Centre, Community Room, 44 Simmonds Road, North Preston  Open House 4:30 – 9 p.m.

 

Wednesday, June 12Canada Games Centre, Community Centre Room, 26 Thomas Raddall Drive, Halifax    Open House 4:30 – 9 p.m.

 

Thursday, June 13Gordon Snow Community Centre, Multi-purpose Room, 1359 Fall River Road, Fall River   Open House 4:30 – 9 p.m.

 

Open house sessions held on June 10, 12 and 13 will feature information displays on all proposed changes to the Regional Plan. HRM staff will be available to answer questions one-on-one. The open house format will not include a presentation.

 

Monday, June 17 – Holiday Inn Harbourview, Lake City Ballroom & Terrace, 101 Wyse Road, Dartmouth

Open House: 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.   Public Forum: 6:30 – 9 p.m.

During the final public consultation session on June 17, information displays outlining all proposed changes to the Regional Plan will be available during a two-hour open house (4:30-6:30 p.m.). At 6:30 p.m. a public meeting will begin. There will be a presentation given on the changes to the Regional Plan, followed by a town-hall style question-and-answer period.

 

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