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High-rise buildings a sign of progress, but some Halifax residents say they don't belong
HALIFAX -- High-rise buildings are springing up throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality, and while some see it as a sure sign of progress, others say the tall buildings aren’t welcome in their neighbourhoods.
“We have a 22-storey apartment building being built in our backyard,” says Halifax homeowner Mervin Ferguson. “Quite frankly, it was snuck upon us. We found out through the rumour mill.”
Next month, Dexel Developments will tear down a retail plaza on Mumford Road and start construction on a high-rise accommodating 120 apartments, commercial space, and two floors of underground parking.
Ferguson is concerned about how that will affect the already-heavy traffic in his community.
“That doesn’t fit within a residential neighbourhood. These are single-family homes that have been here since 1950,” says Ferguson.
“We see how choked it is here now with traffic on Joe Howe in the morning, in the evening, rush hours. What happens is, they take the escape route through our neighbourhood.”
In an email, Dexel Developments said the project was approved in 2016, but the construction permit was only approved this year -- just a few months before the city’s Centre Plan was passed, which would have restricted the development to six stories.
“There has to be a starting point, but until that point in time, you can’t say that you have to follow rules that don’t exist yet,” says Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.
“When they had this, I think it was an as-of-right development, so the developer had the right to do it. I understand the concern. There’s always a concern when large buildings are put into residential neighbourhoods.”
But Savage says, with a growing municipality like HRM, new development is necessary.
“Last year we grew by 8,500 people, it’s like 20,000 people in just over three years,” he says. “People need a place to live. There was a time when people used to say, ‘Who’s going to live in all these buildings?’ Now we’re saying, ‘How are we going to get enough buildings for the people to live?”
Some residents in the Mumford Road area are saying anywhere but here.
Roughly 130 people have signed a petition to stop the development, but construction is on track to begin next month.