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Seek to dream

Mike Fleury seeks clarity.

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When volume one, issue one, of Seek landed in our mailbox last week, we didn't know exactly what we were looking at. But we were definitely curious.

The three-page, double-sided fold-out bills itself as a Planning & Design Centre newsletter. There isn't much on the front page to indicate exactly where it comes from, but open it up, and it does the most amazing thing: In a city awash with plans, development proposals and building projects, Seek attempts to collect them all into one neat, digestible package. It has dates and locations of upcoming public meetings. It has curious HRM factoids (number of public parking spaces within a five-minute walk from the Grand Parade: 4,828). It maps development projects graphically, by neighbourhood, providing a quick reference to what is being built in your backyard—the new public library on Spring Garden, the Twisted Sisters, Dartmouth Crossing, the Grand Parade, the proposed replacement of Dal's Life Sciences building....

It isn't complete, but it did feel like a brief moment of development clarity. It felt good. We picked up the phone.

"I would hope that people are a little bit overwhelmed when they see everything that we've compiled, or that they'll be overwhelmed by the variety of projects going on at the moment," says Heather Ternoway, who works with the Cities and Environment Unit, a group of designers loosely affiliated with Dalhousie's school of planning. Not students, and not city workers, the unit is made up of "a core group of eight or 10 people" with Master's degrees in design, says Ternoway. Their primary motivation? Simply to open up discussion about the future development of Halifax.

"I'd put Seek to anyone who thinks that this city isn't growing quickly," says Ternoway. With information gathered from the city, the province and private developers, this newsletter is the closest thing to a comprehensive picture you're gonna get. "We're trying to be as unbiased as possible," she says. "This is simply meant to be a snapshot of what's happening in the city right now, which didn't really otherwise exist."

Seek had its official launch on Wednesday night: It's already been distributed at libraries and public spaces around the city. It's also available for browsing online, at pdc.ceunit.dal.ca. Ternoway describes Seek as just a first step in building public discussion, with issue two due—tentatively—sometime in June or July.

Bounce with me

Full disclosure: I used to regularly play soccer on the Dal turf. It was something akin to playing soccer on a living room carpet. Attempt any kind of slide tackle and the rug burn would chew up most of your leg.

As fun as that was, it's nice to see the 12-year-old turf is finally being turfed. Dal is currently in the process of replacing the old green carpet with a new layer of "FieldTurf-Tarkett." According to Dal Athletics rep Kathy Wheadon-Hore, it ain't grass—but it's close.

"This is a sand-rubber infill system, which is geared to soccer," she says. "The bounce will be more like what you'd get off of a grass field.

"We'll also be doing some work on the fence surrounding the area and we'll be fixing up the corner, which has a sort of broken retaining wall."

Hmm...that's how we used to sneak on to the field to play frisbee. So, it's good news and bad. Expect the field renovations to be complete near the end of May or in early June.

Sneak onto our field. Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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