Denault Blouin says he moved to Halifax about 28 years ago “because it was and still is a small, personal and beautiful city.” And he wants to keep it that way.
That’s why he wants the municipality to make its urban design plan more environmentally friendly before it’s passed by city council. Blouin was just one of many concerned citizens who stood up last night at city hall to share his views on HRMByDesign, a 25-year vision for Halifax’s beloved downtown.
“Halifax has become a global model for recycling,” the Tupper Grove resident told the municipal politicians and community members who filled council chambers. “Please now add to that distinction by suspending HRMByDesign in order to redesign it to make Halifax an authentically green city.”
Blouin also pointed out that “tourists do not come to see Scotia Square,” but rather for the beauty of its heritage buildings, which he called “models of sustainability.”
Ronald Colman, executive director of Genuine Progress Index Atlantic, agreed Halifax Regional Municipality has more work to do. He said the city needs to complete its plans for sustainability, transportation and energy, “all which are underway,” before moving ahead with HRMByDesign.
Peggy Cameron of Help Save the View from Citadel Hill, however, made it clear her group’s against the plan.
She called HRMByDesign “a well-greased machine” that will get rid of height restrictions on buildings near the world-renowned historic site.
But Andy Fillmore, the city’s urban design project manager, said HRMByDesign will “reduce building heights,” in the area with the exception of two tall towers that would be built as part of the new convention centre.
Halifax Chamber of Commerce president Valerie Payn said HRMByDesign will breathe new life into the city.
“Downtown Halifax is dying,” she said. “As leaders, you must do what you believe is best for HRM in the long-term, by voting ‘yes.’ ”
Public presentations were expected to continue over the next three days.