Residents worry proposed 13-storey building would hurt Dartmouth lake

A rendering of the proposed 13-storey residential building on Lake Micmac, as seen from Waverley Road in Dartmouth, N.S. (Root Architecture/MMBR Developments - image credit)
A rendering of the proposed 13-storey residential building on Lake Micmac, as seen from Waverley Road in Dartmouth, N.S. (Root Architecture/MMBR Developments - image credit)

A proposed 13-storey building on Dartmouth's Lake Micmac would bring tenants beautiful views of the water and nearby park, but current residents say they're worried about the impact a highrise would have on the lake itself.

About 90 people crowded into the Fairbanks Centre at Shubie Park Tuesday evening to hear more about the project at 211 Waverley Road and give feedback.

The building would create 141 one and two-bedroom apartments on a site that's currently woods, a single-family home and parking for the next door Mic Mac Bar and Grill — which is run by Terry Legoffic, who is the property owner behind the proposed development.

Deborah Windsor of the Lake Micmac Residence Association was one of many people who brought up concerns about the size of the building not fitting the low-rise character of the neighbourhood, and its impacts on both the lake and people who use it for paddling and fishing.

"Our wish would be that there would be no high-density buildings on our lakes. We need to preserve our lakes … we need to think about future generations," Windsor said.

A site plan of the proposed 13-storey apartment building on Lake Mic Mac shows a 20-metre green buffer between the building and the water
A site plan of the proposed 13-storey apartment building on Lake Mic Mac shows a 20-metre green buffer between the building and the water

A site plan of the proposed 13-storey apartment building shows a 20-metre green buffer between the building and the water. (Root Architecture/MMBR Developments)

She and others talked about possible runoff, the building throwing large shadows, wind issues and the disturbance harming local animals. A consultant for the developer said storm water has to be contained on-site during construction and would flow to Waverley Road after it's built.

But neighbours said that doesn't solve the issue because pipes from the road go back into Lake Micmac.

20-metre buffer required

There would be a 20-metre buffer of existing trees and shrubs between the building and the lake, but that's the requirement for any residence and many said it's not enough for a tower. Windsor said it could set a dangerous precedent for other projects on Dartmouth lakes.

"The concern is if you build this one, then the next one is going to be easier. 'Well, you've done it once, well do it again,'" Windsor said.

The building would have two levels of underground parking and some surface-level spots adding up to about 190 spaces. The site is currently zoned as single-family residential.

Many brought up concerns about traffic, as Waverley Road is already busy, and questioned the accuracy of the traffic study that said the development would increase traffic by about four per cent.

Municipal staff at the meeting said the traffic study didn't take into account major developments nearby, like the Parks of Lake Charles creating 4,000 units, and they would examine whether another was needed.

The site is on a bus route, but some residents said transit isn't good enough yet in the area to get people to switch from vehicles. They also said people who could afford to live in a new building on the lake likely won't be using the bus.

A rendering shows the proposed 13-storey building on Lake Mic Mac that would create 141 units.
A rendering shows the proposed 13-storey building on Lake Mic Mac that would create 141 units.

A rendering shows the proposed 13-storey building on Lake Micmac that would create 141 units. (Root Architecture/MMBR Developments)

Although most of the speakers were against the proposal, one man said he and his wife would love to live in the area as they age, and was supportive of the building.

Area Coun. Tony Mancini said he heard many concerns that come with nearly any Halifax-area development. While more units are always needed in the city's housing crisis, Mancini said good planning is key to making sure it fits the community — and "top priority is protecting the lake."

The two-acre site does appear to have enough room for flexibility, Mancini said, so perhaps a 35 or 40-metre lake buffer could happen in the next draft of plans. The developer also has to provide environmental and stormwater plans to the city.

"There's a lot of opportunity to make adjustments, to make something work here that would be accepted by more [people]," Mancini said.

A staff report on the project will come back to the local community council within the next year. They will hold a public hearing before making a final decision.

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