Last Updated on Friday, 29 November 2013
In 2006 HRM adopted a new RMPS (Regional Municipal Planning Strategy). It was to be reviewed and amended if necessary every 5 years. As the first review approached a broad-based coalition of close to 50 committed NGOs, the Our HRM Alliance, formed to advocate for positive changes to the Plan. Representing business organizations, community groups, organizations dedicated to health, improved transportation, and the environment, a “people’s congress”, they agreed on Seven Solutions which wouldmake HRM a healthier and more liveable “community of communities”.
In 2011, HRM set in motion its official review process, RP+5, the Regional Plan plus five years. The review’s launch featured a presentation by the Alliance of the Seven Solutions. Theyquickly became focal points for the municipality’s planning dialogue.
Over the next two years, throughout the municipal election, throughout the RP+5 Public Consultations, which inspired four volumes of volunteer citizen engagement, and throughout the detailed review by HRM’s own citizen/councillor advisory committee, CDAC (the Community Design Advisory Committee), the Seven Solutions have been front and centre. On September 18, 2013 HRM Planning Staff produced a draft document, 3.0. Now the question is, have the Seven Solutions found their way into the draft Plan?
What follows is the Alliance’s response to that question:
The Objective section at the beginning of 3.0 is great. Also, its Chapter 9, Governance and Implementation, and its Appendix A - RMPS Indicators do provide a much clearer list of measurable, though targets for these indicators are often missing. Progress cannot be measured without targets. Indeed, there are a number of areas throughout the Plan where worthy objectives will be difficult to achieve without stronger policies to support them.
The document lacks clarity. To communicate effectively, it needs a simple unifying concept – Greenbelting, so everyone knows where development is encouraged, under what terms, and where it’s not allowed. Citizens and developers alike have called for simplicity, for clear choices, and for eliminating red tape. 3.0’s policies are still too complex and leave too much “wiggle room.” The draft itself calls for a Greenbelting Priorities Plan. So, let’s get on with it.
That said, staff and citizens alike should be proud - huge improvements have been made through the RP+5 process. We are almost there. With one more push, the Alliance is convinced we can achieve an RMPS that will put this municipality on the right course.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2013
With planning and law, there's bound to be a lot of confusion over the specificities of development law, and the ability for a municipality to enforce the goals of their plans.
To sort this out, Our HRM Alliance consulted with two law firms to clear things up.
We clarified that:
- HRM has the ability to restrict development, and limited power to prohibit development absolutely. (Briefing courtesy of Burchell's LLP)
- HRM has no obligation to compensate developers for land that becomes protected. In fact, doing so would set a dangerous precedent. (Briefing courtesy of Donelly Law)
Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2013
The Our HRM Alliance is dedicated to creating a more liveable, sustainable HRM.
In 2012, we published "Our Seven Solutions", containing seven specific recommendations to HRM on the occasion of the 5 year review (RP+5) of the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (RMPS).
For the final round of submissions to the Community Design Advisory Committee, the Alliance has chosen to break those solutions into five fundamental parts. Without the inclusion of these concepts in a revised RMPS the Alliance will not be able to support it.
The five concepts include:
1. Directing Growth
2. Greenbelting and Priority Plans
4. Inadequate Measures to Monitor Success
5. Increasing Riparian Buffers
For a more detailed explanation of each of these 5 fundamental areas for a more liveable and sustainable HRM, please take a look at the letter we sent to the HRM Planning team.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013
For Immediate Release
Halifax, NS, July 4, 2013 – The Our HRM Alliance released the results of a poll conducted by Corporate Research Associates that shows that there is strong support for the municipal government to get back on track to meet its growth targets for urban, suburban and rural HRM. The current regional plan prioritizes growth in areas already serviced with sewer and water but the municipality has failed to meet these targets.
“These results make sense to us,” said John Cascadden with Five Bridges Wilderness Heritage Trust. “Not only do people understand the significant tax savings of sticking to our growth targets, but across the region – from St. Margaret’s Bay to Sackville – we see the consequences of poorly planned growth on our communities. The Regional Plan needs to define the actual steps HRM must follow to ensure we reach or exceed our growth targets within a given timeframe.”
A recent study by the consulting company, Stantec, indicated that if the municipality stuck to its growth targets it could save up to $670 million over the remaining 20 years of the plan.
“Nobody, including the suburban and rural resident, benefits from unplanned growth or sprawl,” says Walter Regan of the Sackville Rivers Association. “It results in more congestion on our roads and strains already existing services. It bulldozes important green spaces, and ultimately costs us, the taxpayer, more and more every year.”
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1) Committee of the Whole
The Committee of the Whole is continuing their discussions on the Regional Plan this Tuesday, December 10 at 10am City Hall (Note 10am and not 1pm). It’s important to be in the audience and for all the Councillors to see people from their districts there. If you can’t come please ask someone else in your organization to attend. If you need to tune in from home you can view it online here. Tuesdays agenda can be found here.
2) EAC Open House
Yesterday was the Ecology Action Centre’s Annual Open House. I was happy to see many Alliance members in attendance, as well as Councillors Watts and Whitman. One interactive display we had was a map of the HRM with the question, “How would a greenbelt benefit the HRM?” Some responses included groundwater recharge, more green space to keep people happy & healthy, increase biodiversity, containing urban sprawl, save $ for citizens of HRM, and legacy of space for future generations.
3) Letter to Outhit from Alliance member
Check out this great letter sent from Bedford West resident, Catherine Frazee.
Council made it about halfway through the RP+5 discussion yesterday and will meet again next Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 1pm.
Check out today’s news articles regarding the Regional Plan review:
Chronicle Herald: Alliance calls for higher population density in HRM
Halifax Metro: Next version of Halifax’s regional plan takes shape after long, long debate
Regional Plan Sept. 18, 2013:
1) Letter and 3.0 analysis sent to Mayor & Councillor. Dec. 2, 2013
2) WRWEO’s letter to Mayor Mike Savage and Councillors regarding their disappointment in the final draft of RP+5. Oct. 9, 2013
3) District 4 resident Michael McFadden's letter to Councillor Lorelei Nicoll. Nov. 4, 2013
4) District 16 resident Catherine Frazee's letter to Councillor Tim Outhit. Dec. 2, 2013
1) Suburban Sprawl: Exposing Hidden Costs, Identifying Innovations. Oct. 2013
2) Evaluating the Economic Benefits of Greenbelt Assets March 2012
3) Donnelly Law Re: Our HRM Alliance Calls for a Greeneblt for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Oct. 2, 2013
4) Gardner Pinfold Economic Impacts of Growth Related Infrastructure Costs June 2013
5) STANTEC Report Quantifying the Costs and Benefits to HRM, Residents and the Environment of Alternate Growth Scenarios April 2013
6) Donnelly Law Re: HRM Greenbelt and Landowner Compensation July 19, 2013