Halifax Regional Council hasn’t voted yet on allowing two massive developments for the downtown to go ahead, but the debate might already be over.
A decision last week by the Utility and Review Board could allow the projects to move forward regardless of how council votes.
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The buildings near Barrington and Sackville St. would be three times taller than height restrictions proposed under HRMbyDesign. But they, and two other developments, could be grandfathered because HRMbyDesign hasn’t been approved yet.
Some councillors argued strongly against the grandfathering last Tuesday at HRM’s weekly council meeting. However, on Thursday the UARB overturned council’s blocking of a waterside development. The UARB ruled it went against the Municipal Planning Strategy.
That same strategy has a clause saying developments must be considered under the laws of the day. That could open up the door for developers to a successful appeal, even if council votes against grandfathering.
That’s been enough to change the mind of Downtown Halifax Coun. Dawn Sloane, who argued against grandfathering last week but now says she’s in favour of it.
“If this went to court, how would it play out?,” Sloane said. “And I’m thinking, in our own policies it states that we’re to judge things through the policy of the day.”
“I’m concerned about that. And it’s not that I’m chickening out or anything, I’m just looking at… what is the technical way we should be doing this?"
Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley Coun. Steve Streatch said developers invested in the projects in good faith and it would be unfair to block them.
Clayton Park West Coun. Mary Wile, a vocal opponent of grandfathering last week, said she might vote for it as well. But she still opposes the two developments.
“They’ll totally ruin the landscape of Barrington Street that was planned,” she said.