Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

Residents dream up future for St. Pat’s Alexandra development

Community members gather to discuss future housing possibilities on the St. Patrick's- Alexandra site

by Stephanie Taylor

Community members were encouraged to build their own vision of the future development. Photo Stephanie Taylor
Community members were encouraged to build their own vision of the future development. Photo Stephanie Taylor

K'JIPUKTUK, HALIFAX - It’s called the hub of Halifax’s north end, and it’s about time to see change, locals say. 

Court decision or not. 

North end residents and other community members came together to envision the future of the St. Patrick’s- Alexandra school site at a public meeting Monday evening, hosted by Dalhousie University’s Cities and Environment Unit and the recently formed North Central Community Association. 

The association consists of three community groups: the Richard Preston Centre for Excellence, the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and the North End Community Health Centre. 

Although future plans for development of the St. Pat’s site continue to forge ahead, the three groups still await to hear the fate of the historic school, which remains at a standstill since developer Jono Developments Ltd. appealed a decision made by the city that halted the sale of the building to a private developer. 

Community momentum will only help to strengthen the case, says Margaret Casey, chair of the group's board.  

Organizers at Monday’s event unveiled the first draft of the site’s future development, designed using feedback from an earlier July meeting, and from drop-in sessions that took place at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre last month. 

Professor Frank Palermo, director of the Cities and Environment Unit, presented the preliminary designs, and stressed the importance of moving forward with a spirit of community trust and co-operation. 

“Despite court cases … the real power rests with the community,” Palermo told the crowd of nearly 40. 

Protecting the heritage character of the old school, opening up the site to more public green space and building at least 300 units of affordable housing, were three of the development’s main design principles. 

The site is  planned to be home to the Richard Preston Centre for Excellence and the North End Community Health Association, as well as have both long-term and short-term accommodations for various arts and non-profit organizations. 

With small blue blocks in hand and drawings of the new site plans, community members were encouraged to literally build their own vision of the future development, and discuss other ways the area can be designed to better meet the needs of the residents. 

“There’s an enormous value to public spaces,” Palermo said, describing that housing on the site should be organized to create the greatest capacity for green space to enhance community identity and promote healthy living. 

Some residents raised the point that housing should take the shape of townhouses with front yards, rather than condominiums and apartment blocks, despite market demands. 

Although Monday’s event was filled with much discussion about dreams of the future, some resident’s couldn’t ignore the present realities. 

“We haven’t won the political battle yet,” one resident said, citing the city’s decision to close Bloomfield Centre and the ongoing fight to save the Khyber Building. 

Another public meeting to discuss a more finalized development plan will be set for the coming months. 

There is no word on when any decision on the court appeal will be made.  

Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: Housing
488 words


User login

Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!