By Kate Watson
I still remember the day several years ago that my eldest son told me he’d decided not to apply to medical school, that he was going to study urban planning, instead.
I was incredulous. “Urban planning! What’s that?” I asked. “Is that even a thing?”
Since then, I’ve learned that urban planning is more than just a “thing”, it’s a very important thing that shapes our communities and touches our lives on a daily basis.
And that’s exactly why everyone should attend the Centre Plan launch event on March 21st at Alderney Landing.
The Centre Plan is phase three of something called HRMbyDesign, a 25-year vision for our Regional Centre. Phase One–The Regional Centre Vision and Principles–was adopted by Regional Council in 2007 and Phase Two–The Downtown Halifax Plan– was adopted in 2009.
This third phase will replace the patchwork of planning rules and zoning policies that were left over after amalgamation with a unified set of guidelines for the Halifax Peninsula and Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway.
Simply put, the Centre Plan will first consider what makes our neighbourhoods livable and prosperous. Then, a new Regional Centre Municipal Planning Strategy, Land Use By-law and design standards will be created around this.
Chances are that if there is something that really matters to you in shaping the Regional Centre, it will be addressed in one of the Centre Plan’s seven themes: land-use and design; mobility; public spaces and places; culture and heritage; housing; sustainability; and jobs and economic development.
Development of the Centre Plan is your opportunity to be involved with the planning process. If we get this right citizens and developers will be happy because development will be predictable. There will be a clear framework so there will be no need to debate one-off projects.
Personally, I want to ensure that the unique character and pedestrian-focus of Portland Street is preserved. I want the new Shannon Park to be a vibrant, welcoming community with a wide range of public spaces, shops and housing options. I want any future development along Wyse road to complement the existing neighbourhood while bringing more prosperity to the community. I want development that ensures our communities are livable, walkable and sustainable everywhere in the Regional Centre.
I’m going to go to the Centre Plan meetings to express these thoughts.
You should come and express your thoughts, too!