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Leave low density alone

Re: "A good development proposal" (posted Aug. 27 in Tim Bousquet's Reality Bites blog at

When I looked at the staff report on this proposal for the Metledge development on Iseville and Kaye streets, what stuck out was the HRM staff's more general theme that they are looking to increase density in all developments on Halifax peninsula.

The HRM staff are saying that, regardless of current permitted uses on the peninsula, municipal staff will support higher densities---above those currently permitted by city law.

The HRM staff are, in effect, saying it's time to bust up low-density housing on the Halifax Peninsula.

Higher residential density works fine if the city is reclaiming commercial land for residential and mixed uses. However, high-density/highrise apartment developments are a bad threat to peninsular Halifax residential homeowners.

The vast majority of the Halifax peninsular land use is for low-density residential zoning. These are family streets full of everyone from young families to seniors. These high-density, HRM-approved developments threaten safety and municipal service delivery in low-density neighbourhoods.

Halifax is a successful city because it kept its downtown small and dense, providing more room for mostly family residential housing.

Halifax needs to reclaim more lands for low-density residential use. For example, the best potential in scale development lands on Halifax peninsula are the university lands. The universities should sell their peninsular land holdings, and consolidate to, for example, the Mount Saint Vincent property.

The universities need new buildings and the sale of universities' land would provide most of the cost of the upgrade.

The city could reclaim much former residential property the universities have been eating into, and stop the decay of family neighbourhoods in the university areas. Developing the university lands provides for a range of residential densities, without highrise absurdities, which cause safety and traffic problems, water pressure and even sewage capacity problems to the surrounding residents.

By Peter Ewert

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