Whether they’re for or against it, Haligonians have their last chance to speak out about the proposed HRMbyDesign plan at a public hearing starting Tuesday night.
Andy Fillmore, the municipality’s urban design project manager, said between 100 and 150 groups and individuals are expected to have their say about what he calls “a new vision for what the community wants its downtown to look like.”
“They’ve set aside Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to handle overflow,” he said yesterday.
City councillors “really want to hear what everybody has to say” before making a final decision, Fillmore said.
HRMbyDesign includes everything from design guidelines and building heights to heritage protection, he said, describing it as a plan to make Halifax “a spectacular city” that balances future goals with a historic past.
But the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia is much less impressed and confirmed Monday it’s asking council not to adopt the plan.
“There are very serious problems with it and we think it would negatively impact both the heritage buildings and the views from Citadel Hill,” Phil Pacey, the group’s president, said of higher height limits under HRMbyDesign.
He said that includes two tall towers that may be built as part of Halifax’s new convention centre, which Premier Rodney MacDonald and Mayor Peter Kelly agreed on yesterday.
Genuine Progress Index Atlantic, a non-profit research group, agrees HRMbyDesign isn’t complete. Executive director Ronald Colman said its intentions are great but its impacts “have not been properly assessed.”
“What’s the impact on congestion in the downtown area? What are the impacts going to be on traffic flow? What are the impacts on greenhouse gas emissions?” he asked. “Our view is that it’s putting the cart before the horse.”
Speakers have to sign up Tuesday evening, with any written submissions also due by 3 p.m.
City council is set to review a staff report on the matter May 26 with a vote possible as early as that day.