Busy start to 2008 for urban revitalization team

From The Halifax Chronical Herald

By MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE Staff Reporter
Sun. Dec 30 – 9:11 AM
The first few months of 2008 should see a flurry of activity surrounding Halifax city hall’s $405,400 urban revitalization project, culminating in a report to regional council in the spring.

Project manager Andy Fillmore said Saturday the next round of public consultation is scheduled for March. But before then, municipal staff and the city’s HRM by Design consultants will be working toward a presentation to regional council in mid-February.

Mr. Fillmore said results from a public forum on the downtown core, held in Halifax in November, will be brought to the politicians at that time.

“We’ve got two tracks going simultaneously,” he said. “The one track is for the presentation to council in February, to present those outcomes of the downtown forum. The other half is starting to craft the draft (urban renewal) policy for council’s review in April.”

Regional councillors have been adopting elements of the project, in principle, on a phase-by-phase basis, Mr. Fillmore said.

“At the end of the project, we’ll be compiling all the findings into a final document that will also have to get approved. So council isn’t entirely bound by what they’ve approved already — they still have that one last kick at the can in the final report.”

The report is due in April.

Mr. Fillmore, a planner with Halifax Regional Municipality, said city staff and the consultants are hopeful the current council will authorize changes proposed for the downtown. A new council will be in office after the municipal election in October.

The following are key aspects of “the preferred scenario” for the downtown, provided by Mr. Fillmore in November in a commentary in The Chronicle Herald.

•Improved development policies that will provide “predictability, clarity and expediency” in the approvals process.

•Unprecedented, “world-class heritage protections,” including the introduction of up to seven Heritage Conservation Districts . . . and the preservation of historic view planes.

•The accommodation of up to 14 million square feet of new commercial and residential development distributed throughout the downtown over 25 years.

•Excellent short-term development capacity in the central downtown.

( mlightstone@herald.ca)

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