Planning

Oxford and North St. Proposal Voted Down

proposed development site at Oxford and North Street   Christy Somos

Halifax Regional Council has voted down a proposed development of a six-storey building at the corner of Oxford and North Street. 

The developer, Mythos Development Ltd., asked for an amendment to local zoning regulations, so that the building could go forward in the quiet neighbourhood. But due to concerns from residents in the area, the Halifax West Community Council, an organization made up of representatives from districts seven through 12, recommended that the development be denied.

A motion on Tuesday supporting the community council passed 16 to four. This means Mythos Development can’t proceed with the application until more public meetings are held.

Councillor Lindell Smith, who represents Halifax Peninsula North, presented information from residents on “both sides of the issue.”

He said that elderly residents are in favour of housing that is accessible and provide a different option rather than the traditional houses that currently line the street. Smith said shadowing, or the proposed building blocking sunlight, and other factors, such as increased traffic, were not addressed as well as the neighbourhood would have liked.

“No one is saying this cannot happen,” Smith said. “It just has to happen right.”

Prior public information meetings and planning committees have spanned almost two and half years since the initial application for an eight-storey building was made. Due to concerns from residents at the time, Mythos Development worked with the public, councillors and the community council to change their proposal to six-storey building with additions to the current streetscape.

Almost all of the councillors who chose to speak on the matter made reference to the Halifax Regional Municipality’s upcoming Centre Plan, a cohesive revision to land zoning and land use within the municipality. The draft for the Centre Plan lists six-storey buildings, similar to Mythos’ final proposal, as an acceptable maximum height in areas like the Chebucto Corridor that include the Oxford and North Street.

Councillor Matt Whitman, who voted against the project, said the HWCC recommendation was “all over the place” with the use of the Centre Plan as the main capitulation against going forward with the Oxford Street proposal. The Centre Plan hasn’t been finalized yet.

“If we are going to use the Centre Plan (as a guideline), then let’s use it,” said Whitman.

Councillor Steve Streatch, who voted in favour of the project, said he is supportive of development in that area and thought that pushing back on the proposal yet again could risk discouraging further growth within HRM.

Deputy Mayor Steve Craig, who also voted for the development, disagreed with this stance.

“I am pro-development for the residents, not for the developer,” he said in a sentiment that was echoed by the public in the council room at the time.

Mythos Development can reapply after the Centre Plan is finalized, but staff warn that it will not be within this year’s construction season.