Dartmouth reacts to Centre Plan draft

HRM is holding several public meetings to hear from residents

Pauline Irvin-Hunter, left, listens to people talk about the Centre Plan.
Pauline Irvin-Hunter, left, listens to people talk about the Centre Plan.   Sixian Zuo

Dozens of people turned out for a public event in Dartmouth on Wednesday to give their opinions of the Centre Plan.

The Centre Plan will be the first comprehensive plan with implementation tools for land use and development for the area between the Circumferential Highway and the Halifax Peninsula. At the event, participants, including residents, developers and politicians, sat around tables at the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club and wrote down their comments on sheets of paper.

From affordable housing to bike lanes to street lights and the open space network, people commented on every aspect of the plan. The design and scale of houses and buildings was one of the most talked about issues.

“It is important for each side of the harbour maintains their own special unique characteristics that makes (them) what they are,” said Pauline Irvin-Hunter, a retired elementary school teacher who lives in Dartmouth. “I don’t want to see Dartmouth look like Halifax with high buildings.”

Irvin-Hunter says five years ago there were banks, lawyers and dentists or small local stores, and only a few businesses in the downtown area. Now, more shops and large chain stores have opened.

Jacob Ritchie, the urban design program manager with the Halifax Regional Municipality, agreed with Irvin-Hunter.

“People don’t want new buildings too big and they want them in the right places,” he said in an interview. “In commercial areas they want to see new buildings and they want to protect their residential areas, where there are smaller houses.”

Jacob Ritchie, middle, hosts the public event for HRM. He is the urban design program manager.
Jacob Ritchie, middle, hosts the public event He’s an urban design program manager with HRM.   Sixian Zuo

The urban design team started collecting people’s comments and opinions about the Centre Plan in April.

Wednesday’s feedback and community conversation session was one of four, with three others scheduled for different locations this month. The next conversation will be on Nov.14 at Northwood Centre in Halifax.

The draft plan, released in October 2015, will be available for comments until Dec. 2.

“People are telling us what mistakes we made,” said Ritchie. “We have them recorded and we are going to make the plan better with the comments we heard tonight.”

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