The public got a chance on Wednesday to weigh in on a number developments that could shape the future of Halifax.
Residents were able to attend two sessions of an open house at the Atlantica Hotel to learn more about 18 development proposals within the regional centre boundary as part of the Centre Plan.
The numerous proposals could stir up controversy, as each of the 19 applications received since the Centre Plan was initiated are requests for new policy.
The city says the application review for the proposals and the Centre Plan processes are separate, but want to ensure citizens are able to comment on these applications very early on as part of the development of the Centre Plan policy framework.
Some residents who attended said they see benefits to the developments.
“One big positive would be that if you keep people close to where they work then they have to travel less distance,” Shawn Pothier said.
Aaron GoodMurphy, who also lives in the Halifax Regional Municipality, said change needs to happen.
“I think that given how outdated our current policies are, developers are going about it exactly the way they need to in order to actually have development happen,” GoodMurphy said.
But not everyone is happy with the plans.
One local group was already opposing the proposed developments and the public session before it began.
The Willow Tree Group says they don’t follow existing bylaws and if city council changes the laws to approve them, a small group of developers would receive hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary development rights.
The group also says the proposals undermines the Centre Plan process, which aims to establish new regulations for development in the Halifax over the next 15 years.
Another community group, Friends of the Halifax Common, posted on their website about the open house, urging people to attend and make comments about the developments.
“It’s out of character with the existing scale of the city,” said Peggy Cameron with Friends of the Halifax Common. “We’re an old city. We have a lot of attributes that are worth keeping for tourism.
“Many people in the city aren’t aware that the Centre Plan is going to sneak up heights in their backyard from six storeys to 20 storeys.”
But GoodMurphy said people should ask questions of developers if they’re not sure about the developments, which is why he attended the open house.
“If they’re not doing what you want, then speak to your councillor but don’t think of height as the be-all, end-all ruining of our city. You can have height and you can have history.”
A full list of the development proposals can be found here.
— With files from Alexa MacLean, Global News