By Braeden Jones
Andy Fillmore says the HRM’s 5-year plan (RP+5) is about making Halifax a good place to call home. Thursday night at the regional plan review kick-off at the Lord Nelson Hotel, Fillmore and other speakers explained how they planned on accomplishing that goal.
RP+5, which Fillmore is the director of, was adopted by HRM council in 2006 to be a guiding document for the future of growth and development of the HRM.
The Regional plan is formally reviewed and updated every 5 years. RP+5 is the first of these reviews and is anticipated to continue through until March of 2013. RP+5 was initiated in October and is open to community.
RP+5 coincided with the HRMbyDesign Centre Plan and the successful Irving bid for the national shipbuilding contract. These developments mark potential growth for the city both economically and in population.
The shipbuilding contract could have a large impact on the city’s population and economy, making a five year plan necessary.
The plan promotes, “preserving the environment, maintaining a strong economy, emphasizing the provision of transit services and promoting compact, well planned, communities,” according to the <a href=”http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/RP5.html”> HRM </a> website.
Fillmore explained that the plan would emphasize those approaches in 5 themes. He said, “We want to show that the HRM is sustainable, that it is vibrant, livable, mobile and prosperous.”
These ideas were expounded upon by a panel of guest speakers.
The theme of mobility and value of transit services, given the current situation with Metro Transit and AUT 508, is a timely discussion. Jen Powley of the HRM Alliance says, “for a lot of people not having the bus is pretty significant.”
She says that city planning will play into this in multiple ways, including that “not being on the bus means people are out on those 6m wide sidewalks.”
With an increased population, transit services in the HRM will need to grow to accommodate the greater volume of transit users.
“We need to make sure we have that safe and effective and reliable transit system in place,” says Powley.
Besides transit, Powley also mentions “sidewalks that are useful for everyone and bike lanes that are actually continuous.”
Tim Olive of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission spoke to the vibrancy of Halifax and mentioned more ways to make the hub city a better place to live.
He says, “Having facilities related to the health and welfare of our residents, educational opportunities for our youth, religious facilities and in general, sports and recreational venues including active transportation trails, will further enhance our position as a vibrant and progressive community.”
Calvin Brook is an Organizer and Planner and Principal of Brooke Mcllroy, Toronto, an architecture and urban design planning studio. His ambition is to create interdisciplinary practices into urban design.
Brook was invited to speak at the launch RP+5 Kick off, and talked about the innovate planning done in other municipalities
In particular the avenues and mid-rise strategy. He says “it addresses the issue of focussing growth in a sustainable manner.”
The general idea of the mid-rise approach is that main avenues will maintain an open feel and allow sunlight to fill the streets while simultaneously promoting great density for residential and commercial space.
Fillmore closed off the evening by expressing hopes to find an application for Brook’s innovative ideas on the peninsula.
Hear Brook’s speach here: