Halifax residents weigh in on Young Street redevelopment that could see 11,000 units

People walk through an open house session about the Young District redevelopment at the Halifax Forum's Maritime Hall on June 26, 2024. The city says the area could support thousands of new units and more infrastructure is needed. (Haley Ryan/CBC - image credit)
People walk through an open house session about the Young District redevelopment at the Halifax Forum's Maritime Hall on June 26, 2024. The city says the area could support thousands of new units and more infrastructure is needed. (Haley Ryan/CBC - image credit)

Halifax will transform a large section of the north end into a high-density neighbourhood in the coming years, and residents say more green space, infrastructure and a mix of housing is needed.

Dozens of people attended open house sessions Wednesday at the Halifax Forum to give feedback about the city's two projects in an area that could see 11,000 housing units created, bringing in 26,500 people.

One aspect is a neighbourhood planning process for the nearly 12 hectares of land bordered by Young, Robie, Almon and Windsor streets, where the city expects to see about 5,000 housing units in a mix of new low- to highrise buildings.

City staff have said this block is ideal for denser development because it has city sewer and water service, there are open lots, and it is within walking distance to planned bus rapid transit lines.

Resident Gail Dechman said tall buildings will be a reality, but she'd like to see designs that consider climate change and incorporate green roofs, as well as creative ways to absorb heat and water.

"I'm happy enough with high density, but I think it needs to be built in a thoughtful way and I haven't seen that in the city so far," Dechman said.

A map showing the Young District in light green, stretching from Almon Street to Columbus Street. The Young Street lands, from Almon to Young streets, is where high-density development is planned.
A map showing the Young District in light green, stretching from Almon Street to Columbus Street. The Young Street lands, from Almon to Young streets, is where high-density development is planned.

A map showing the Young District in light green, stretching from Almon Street to Columbus Street. The Young Street lands, from Almon to Young streets, is where high-density development is planned. (Halifax Regional Municipality )

People at the open house chatted with municipal planners, and used colourful notes to suggest things like green space, bike lanes, better transit connections, affordable housing and a community centre in the area.

Milena Khazanavicius said she'd like to see mid-rise buildings up to five storeys that feature flats with multiple bedrooms that could house families.

"So you still have that community. You can still have your neighbours, you know," she said. "It's enough of these ugly cement buildings. We need character here."

Khazanavicius, who is blind, said accessibility improvements are also needed, like more sidewalks and safe ways to get through large parking lots in the area.

The land is owned by private businesses, developers and all three levels of government.

Nearly a third (about 3.7 hectares) is owned by John Bragg of Oxford Frozen Foods, while developer Danny Chedrawe has the corner of Robie and Almon streets across from his Richmond Yards development.

The Young Street lands growth area includes the Halifax Forum and Canada Post facility off Almon Street
The Young Street lands growth area includes the Halifax Forum and Canada Post facility off Almon Street

The Young Street lands growth area includes the Halifax Forum and Canada Post facility off Almon Street. (HRM)

Canada Post has said they have no current plans to move their Almon Street facility, but are exploring how their land could be developed as part of this process.

The city owns the Halifax Forum area, which will be redeveloped with construction expected to begin in 2026. There is also a small provincial building on Young Street.

The second project has staff looking at the larger neighbourhood, dubbed the Young District, which stretches north to Columbus Street. They're examining what infrastructure is needed over the next 30 years to support growth throughout the area, adding up to 11,000 housing units.

That would include bike lanes, utilities like water upgrades, and more pedestrian-friendly streets.

Dechman said she's hoping those come sooner rather than later because plenty of development in the district could go up now.

"I'm not sure that the parallel process is going to work well, but you know, lots of promises and who knows?" she said.

Recommendations for future infrastructure will go to regional council next spring, with Young Street lands planning policies following in the fall. The public will get another chance to weigh in before final decisions are made.

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