UPDATE: after considerable uproar and it looking increasingly unlikely that the motion would get anywhere near the votes required, Councillor Adams withdrew his motion at the December 3, 2019 Council meeting.
A lot of residents have contacted me asking why Councillor Adams gave a Notice of Motion to ask council to consider allowing multi-unit apartment buildings on Young Ave. (edit – the motion does not explicitly ask for multi-unit, but that is what the proponent has asked for since April, and is clearly the intent)
This motion if adopted would overturn the decision to not allow any plan amendments while we complete Centre Plan adopted in June 2019, and also amend the Land Use Bylaws that were just adopted after much upset and public consultation in September 2017, only two years ago.
I am not at all convinced that the proposals would as the motion says “allow for contextually sensitive residential development that does not meet current development standards, so as to maintain the character of this area” given the designs I have seen, such as the one above.
I do not know why this has been brought forward, the Councillor who made the motion has not spoken to me about, other than when I approached him having heard of his intentions, and asked him to delay any such motion until I was actually going to be at Council, which he did.
This motion is very frustrating for two reasons.
- One is that I have been actively working on issues around Young Avenue for the last four years especially these last few months.
- Second is that I would rarely move something in another Councillor’s district, and never without even talking to them about it.
I have attached a timeline of what happened this year, Councillor Adams Motion, a timeline of how we got the LUB amendments, and a link to the letter from the Young Avenue District Heritage Conservation Society.
There are so many reasons why this is a bad move, it is hard to list them all. I will of course keep an open mind if this gets to a public hearing, but I really hope I can stop it before then, and here is some of the reasons why:
- Council just two years ago did an extensive public process and made changes to what is allowed on Young Avenue.
- Nothing has changed since then, other than the eagerness of the proponent to up zone the land.
- The whole point of the Land Use Bylaw changes was to protect Heritage. If you register the building and save it, you can negotiate more units, more rights and if Council passes this motion it rewards bad behavior and undermines the ability of Council and the municipality to provide incentives to save heritage.
- Council only just put a halt to plan amendments in the Regional Centre, back in June, four months ago!
- The idea is that staff should focus on getting Package B of the Centre Plan done by September 2020, not deal with one-offs. Why is this so important it cannot wait 10 months? If we open up to changes here, why not everywhere?
- Package A of the Centre Plan, just adopted, says where larger multiunit buildings should be. If we need to broaden that, and add more properties, the way to do that is through the Package B review, as we consider the whole Regional Centre.
- At every stage of the way the proponent has pushed and pushed for more rights. What started as a modest proposal has become a monster proposal, with much higher lot coverage, depth, units, and a very large apartment building on MacLean, all of which is out of scale for the area.
- Why go straight to initiation, rather than asking for a staff report outlining what the best path forward is as is our normal practice?
So why is Councillor Adams suddenly in such a rush? There is no reason to go to the community on this again, we know what they think. I hope I have the support of my colleagues to stop this initiation.
I ask everyone who cares about Young Ave to write the Mayor and Council via firstname.lastname@example.org and ask that Council vote against initiating this process.
MEETINGS AND ACTIVITIES THIS YEAR ON YOUNG AVENUE
April 2 2019 – Young Avenue District Heritage Conservation Society director contacts me and asks if I have heard anything about the properties. Staff responds “things have generally been silent.”
May 2019 – Staff ask if I me to attend a meeting with the proponent to discuss multi-unit dwellings of 5-9 units each if the buildings were the same size and requirements that are allowed under the zoning adopted in 2017
June 18, 2019 – Regional Council adopts motion to not consider any more policy amendments in Centre Plan area until plan is complete.
August 9 2019 – Meeting the proponent who started saying if he did not get what he wanted that he would build 14 60′ tall houses and the neighbourhood would blame me. I told him I do not respond well to threats.
He then stated that he wanted to build 4 large buildings that looked like houses, with underground parking, and 10-20 units each, and a four story building on MacLean. I said I could not support that.
I suggested he hire a consultant that did public engagement and come back with a proposal for buildings that were exactly or almost exactly what was allowed in the current R1 zone and then take it to the public and try and engage the neighbourhood and get them on board.
I said if there was neighbourhood support, I would bring the motion to regional Council, but that he had to meet with the broad community first, and respond to what they said.
The proponent told me he needed an initiation as quickly as possible so that a purchaser in Toronto would pay him over $10 million for the site. I said that was not really a consideration in terms of planning.
August 16 2019 – Met consultants and reiterated my concern that the proposal had to be exactly or almost exactly what was allowed in the current R1 zone. I suggested a meeting and open house at the Local Council of Women house on Young.
October 7 2019 – Consultants met with Young Avenue District Heritage Conservation Society
October 24 2019 – Letter from Society sent stating no support for the proposal they saw.
Noon October 29 2019 – Met consultants and shared the lack of support. Suggested that the proponent could still have a public meeting and see if others supported the design, but the proposal was too large.
Afternoon October 29 2019 – was told by a council colleague that Councillor Adams was going to make a notice of motion to initiate development on Young Avenue. I spoke to the Councillor and asked him to not make the motion, and if he did delay to ensure I was at the meeting.
November 26, 2019 – Councillor Adams gives Notice of Motion to allow the proponent to develop multi-unit buildings on the property on Young Ave.
LETTER FROM YOUNG AVENUE DISTRICT HERITAGE CONSERVATION SOCIETY
COUNCILLOR ADAMS MOTION:
TAKE NOTICE that, at a future meeting of Halifax Regional Council, I intend to introduce the following motion:
1. Notwithstanding Regional Council’s June 25, 2019 motion directing the Chief Administrative Officer to not accept requests for site-specific amendments to the Municipal Planning Strategies in Centre Plan Package B areas while the planning process to adopt Package B is underway, Regional Council directs the Chief Administrative Officer to:
a. initiate a process to consider amendments to applicable Municipal Planning Strategies and Land Use By-laws for the following properties: PID 00047506 (Young Avenue, Halifax), 819, 823, 829, 835, 849, 853, 857, and 863 Young Avenue, Halifax; and 864, 866, 870, 876, 880 McLean Street, Halifax. The process will consider amendments that allow for contextually sensitive residential development that does not meet current development standards, so as to maintain the character of this area; and
b. Request staff to follow the public participation program as adopted by Council in February, 1997.
ADOPTION OF YOUNG AVENUE LUB AMENDMENTS TIMELINE
Early 2016 – the proponent purchased two historic homes on Young Ave situated on large lots. The buildings, while historic, were not registered as Heritage Properties, so had no protection under the Heritage Property Act.
As Councillor I met with the proponent. I agreed with staff that the best way forward for him was to register the properties as Heritage and then apply for a heritage development agreement to add more density while preserving the properties.
The proponent stated that he was only interested in building new large multiunit buildings on the property.
Neighbours attempted third party heritage registration of first one then the other property.
The proponent tore down the two historic mansions, and also purchased several homes on MacLean and tore them down too.
May 2016 – Regional Council asks for a staff report regarding how to save Young Avenue, an important heritage district.
October 2016 – 561 signature petition received by Council supporting a 80′ of frontage and 10′ side yard requirement.
Staff recommend to Regional Council that changes to the land use bylaw for the street be adopted by Halifax & West Community Council, to created larger lots and a number of other changes to ensure appropriate construction. The motion passed unanimously.
November 2, 2016 – a public meeting was held to discuss potential amendments to the land use bylaw. Approximately 55 people attended and all spoke in favor of the proposed amendments.
November 21, 2016 – District 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee recommended Halifax & West adopt the bylaw with 10′ side yards and also pursue heritage registration.
May 30, 2017 – Halifax & West Community Council gave first reading and set a date for a public hearing.
September 12, 2017 – Halifax & West Community Council held a public hearing and then adopted the changes to the Land Use Bylaw.
October 5, 2017 – the proponent launched an appeal of the new Land Use Bylaw with the Utility Review Board.
May 11, 2018 – the proponent dropped his appeal of the new Land Use Bylaw.