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Halifax! Stop eating your own! Cheer people on who try, yet fail. You have to spend money to make money. Change isn't inherently bad. Grow… More »


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Re: “Why the convention centre sucks, part 1

Okay then ‘Charles the Great’..here’s the counter argument to Tim’s article.

I don’t like the convention centre. By that I don’t like the design. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the idea of it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think it will make money. It doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a good thing. It means I don’t like the design.

So I must be against it, right? Well, if you go about trying to make everyone happy - nothing gets done. If you go about taking polls about what should get done first – nothing gets done. If you hold a vote for every dollar spent – noting gets done. That means that people will make decisions that inevitably I won’t be 100% in favour of. However, 75% of me in favour is a majority vote in my poll of “me” and I can live with that. Most Haligonians, or at least the most vocal ones, can only seem to agree to the “100% what I want or no green light” philosophy. And that, Charles, is truly fucked up.

Tim says it will cost more than was projected – shocking news. That never happens. Oh, wait. I mean that ALWAYS happens. Which means it’s a limp argument.

Tim wants projects like a Cogswell Interchange or the green-ification of Halifax first – actually, me too. Tim says it will cost more money to operate it than it will take in. Yup, again...I probably agree. But so do public transportation systems, roads, utilities, schools, government, etc. Want to kill them too Tim? They cost more when when you DON’T take it to account what you can’t count: the cost of NOT having them. But the convention centre stands a better shot of at least paying for itself while drawing other business in as well. You can’t assume the Centre lives in a bubble and the rental of the offices and halls is all the money it draws in. Cities don’t work that way.

Bigger cities understand cost benefit. Halifax has it’s head up it’s ass about this forever. The notion that $159 million dollars is a lot of money truly shows how backward the city it truly is. I remember when the Skydome’s costs in T.O. went way above the $250 million dollar line. It was a complete waste..unless you count two consecutive world series, hundreds of millions into local businesses and putting Toronto on the world stage - permanently. Now $250 million seems like chump change.

But they’re doing stuff in secret! - you cry. That must mean it’s wrong! Actually, if I was in charge of anything having to do with development in this city I’d bury it underground too – only deeper. Put yourself in a developer’s shoes. Now, how do they feel? Pretty warm, huh? Hot even? Bet you can’t wait to rip them off. That’s called the uneducated, inexperienced public spotlight, baby, and it’s burning holes right through your sole (soul?). To Haligonians spending $20 is $21 dollars too many. Who wants to volunteer to be subjected to that kind of unchecked scrutiny?

Example: recently the Dexter government was outted for spending a shocking $40,000 to host a conference here in Halifax. $40,000!! I was shocked. Shocked that the price tag was so freaking low. You can’t do squat for that kind of money. I bet the whole thing came off looking rather lackluster to whomever attended.

So what do you do if you’re a developer? ? You deflate the numbers, bury some of the facts that don’t look too rosy, and keep as few as possible in the inner circle of what’s going on. Is it right? No. But it’s understandable. After all, Columbus cut his projections of the circumference of the world by half to convince his investors and the Queen that he could do it. But since he didn’t sail back from the New World after building huge cities and raking in trillions of dollars FIRST I guess we’ll call that a predictable failure, huh?

Posted by rcrpmn on 10/14/2010 at 7:51 PM

Re: “Why the convention centre sucks, part 1

I would like to start a "shut-the-fuck-up" fund. I am so sick of all this stupid complaining and "I know a better way" crap. The word I get from everyone I meet is build it, don't build it --but please for god's sake stop whining about it.

Posted by rcrpmn on 10/14/2010 at 3:53 PM

Re: “Bill Estabrooks says building convention centre is "right decision"

yes...bring on the centre...just wish it was this one: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2…

Posted by rcrpmn on 10/08/2010 at 7:27 PM

Re: “Churchill fails

One 5th the size of Churchill Falls now, powering enough to make NL an independent energy province displacing billions to trillions of pounds of coal and CO2 emmisions. Investigate the mercury impact, minimize it...hell, even neutralize it...but folks unless you've got a better idea....

Posted by rcrpmn on 08/23/2010 at 8:13 AM

Re: “The convention centre rescue plan

I dunno Issmat. I sure do hope the structure includes LOTS of easily accessible retail. But the concept art/3D rendering sure doesn't look promising. I see a lot of glass --- and a lot of stairs. Scotia Square anyone? That designer clearly wanted to make sure it was a good hard climb to get in...

Posted by rcrpmn on 04/07/2010 at 9:57 PM

Re: “The convention centre rescue plan

I want to be clear about a few things. First Halifax is totally out of touch about how much things cost – no matter what you may think $100 million is not a lot of money. Second, I am in favour of a new, larger convention centre - as a business owner I can tell you there is no doubt that such a small investment will pay back dividends. And third, the Heritage committee would get more respect from people like me if they lobbied against parking lots by the waterfront, chained themselves to old stone buildings about to be demolished and stop wasting energy on preserving empty lots.

However, and I hate to get in line with the anti-development crowd here, I’m not too keen on THIS convention centre. The reasons are Halifax and city council continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. They get so excited about filling a piece of land that they let pretty much any box go in there. The question isn’t “should a building invade the sightline of the citadel?” The question is “what do we as a city get for the invasion of that sight line”?

I once took an architectural walking tour of the city of Chicago. I was stunned to find out that it was the law that no building could be erected more than 10 stories tall in the city. And that law was strictly enforced. If you Goggle “Chicago skyline” you’ll see why this is an odd fact. Up until recently it was home to the tallest building in the world. The point is the city of Chicago says you “can’t build a building over 10 stores tall…unless…”

Unless what? Well, it turns out if you add public space in front of it you get 10 stories more. If you submit it for architectural revue by a city panel for approval it gets another 10 stories. Put public artwork outside? Another 10 stories. There’s an actual list. For the last 100 years the city of Chicago used its height restriction as a bargaining chip. The result? The most widely architecturally varied, respected and spaciously built city on the continent. And these people love their city.

Why am I against the Halifax plan? They call for another repeat of the same mistakes the old convention centre made. My biggest beef is it’s outer four walls which will inhibit rather than encourage pedestrian traffic. This, like the bad designs of Scotia Square and the existing WTCC, creating a business dead zone. They too have no perimeter of shops or services on the outside. They are buildings that use every scrap of land rather than being “encouraged” to inch back and allow for green space and breathing room from the sidewalk. They are buildings that aren’t contributing any unique design to the city. In fact they subtract from Halifax. And they aren’t alone. On my quasi-residential street condominiums have been built with large concrete walls facing the sidewalk. I will die long before something takes its place to correct those mistakes. Ask yourself, does this building merit a footprint in your neighbourhood for 50+ years?

Attention to space & design means that we could have outdoor cafes that don’t need summer permits to block the avenues. It means a more vibrant and profitable shopping core with people walking, biking and spending. It means a city that has healthy growth that attracts people to its core. This current proposal is another building that is, well, another building. I agree that it’s better that what was there before (and now). But it could be so much more. It’s not as good a deal for Halifax as it could be.

What I’m proposing is a small set of enforced bylaws that stop a developer from invading the view of the citadel ---unless the city gets something in return. Not a “promise of potential” profit but a tangible visible addition to Halifax. And the same rule can apply to waterfront developments, high-rises, community centres… anywhere in HRM. You’d stop squabbles between city hall and the public because it’s no longer debatable – because it is predefined. If an architect wants to build the building they want but keep it under a certain height, so be it. No issues, no debate. But developers need the buildings to be taller and our future depends on densification of the peninsula. So instead of saying yes or no, trade something for something. You want waterfront property? Include bike paths. You like that lot right there? Show us your sustainable green design. You want a tower? Go back to the drawing board and REALLY twist those towers to make a more bold statement.

You’d spark an architectural revolution in this city that Canada has never seen in the past century. This is a proven formula in other urban development, not an experiment. And the best part? These buildings will actually make more money, be more desired by tenants and be more visited by consumers.

If you want to replace history, you make history. That’s the no-brainer.

proud but frustrated Halifax resident

(Thank you ‘TheCoast’ for your ear)

Posted by rcrpmn on 04/06/2010 at 10:28 PM

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