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The proposed development from Fathom Studio would create more than 3000 residential units. (Source: Fathom Studio)

Proposed Strawberry Hill development will need lots of community feedback, says councillor

By Jacob Moore Mar 27, 2024 | 3:51 PM

Halifax Regional Council will look at a development proposal in the Strawberry Hill Street area.

The plan includes construction for 14 new buildings, which would create 3,656 units.

However, Lindell Smith, councillor for Halifax peninsula north, says the proposal doesn’t reflect how the final plan will look.

“I know there was some nervousness from the community when they saw the renders that came from the landowners. Just for clarity, those are what the landowners want. It’s not what they’ll get,” Smith told council on Tuesday.

Fathom Studio, an architecture firm in Dartmouth, made the proposal on behalf of property owners in the area.

The council voted unanimously in favour of the motion to start the proposal review process.

Strawberry Hill Street doesn’t have a lot of very tall buildings. Smith says some people in the area were nervous about how the project would change their community. They may think smaller scale buildings, like townhouses and single-family homes, may be better for building community, he says.

One person he spoke with told him it was like putting a downtown in an area that wasn’t downtown.

“When large buildings are being thought about, there’s always folks who are just nervous about what it’s going to do to change where I live and how I operate,” says Smith.

“That general feeling of just change, which is a tough thing to deal with, especially in an area like Strawberry Hill that hasn’t seen change for a very long time.”

The Strawberry Hill Street area is zoned differently than other areas. It’s specifically designated to accommodate large growth, so it has a different process with more community engagement, says Smith. Typically, places have rules about what can go there and businesses can propose buildings within those regulations. Then council will decide if they like it or not, says Smith.

For these designated growth areas, city council will gather a lot of community feedback and research during the proposal process to determine what is best for that spot, says Smith.

That feedback will then inform the council’s proposed regulations and policies that determine what can be built in the area.

Some landowners in the area weren’t included in the current designation of the motion, he told council on Tuesday. If any property owners want to be designated as part of the growth node proposal, they’ll have the chance to be included through the proposal process, he says.

“This is a very small part of addressing the housing crisis,” says Rob LeBlanc, director of planning for Fathom Studio, the architecture firm behind the proposal.

“The city, the province and the feds recognize this is a giant problem, and we’re trying to kickstart to get a lot more housing built,” says LeBlanc.

The proposal process will take long enough that the city probably won’t review the development plan until after the next municipal election, says Smith.

The election takes place in October.