Committee recommends delays on Barrington height requirements

Halifax’s Regional Design Committee recommended Thursday that the city not expand building height limits in Barrington Street’s South District until the results of a conservation study.

Fate of buildings at Barrington and South to be decided in Design Review Committee. (Peter Nolan-Smith photo)

By Peter Nolan-Smith

Barrington Street won’t be getting any taller any time soon.

Halifax’s Regional Design Committee asked city council on Thursday to hold off on expanding building height limits in Barrington Street’s South District until the results of a conservation study.

The proposed change includes the Westin Hotel, the Via Rail Train Station and a lot that became vacant after a fire two years ago in the former location of the South End Diner. The current limit on building height is set at 22 meters.

“The original reason city council had limited the height of that area was because they were interested in this south Barrington conservation district designation,” said the committee’s chair Terry Smith-Lamothe.

“I think city council wanted the staff to review the options now that [sic] particular lot is vacant.”

The committee’s mandate is to make recommendations based on the city’s  “HRMbyDESIGN” guidelines, a project created in 2009 to focus design and construction in Halifax after extensive public consultation.

The proposed change could affect the Westin Hotel. (Peter Nolan-Smith photo)

“We are bound by the guideline in the book so it’s a matter of interpretation and how the committee viewed it if the city had deferred it to wait for the south Barrington conservation plan. Our recommendation was that they continue to delay until the plan is fully emergent  from the dialogue there” said Smith-Lamothe.

The proposed amendments would also allow for a reduction in the mandatory limit on landscaping space from just over 24 square metres to 5 square metres.

The final decision is left to members of council which will make their ruling after they return from March break.

“We haven’t delayed or blocked anything,” said Smith-Lamothe. “We just made a recommendation.”

The vacant lot is a point of particular interest as it would allow new construction in an area of the city containing many buildings considered to be historical properties.