Seek Newsletter – Volume 002

Friday, July 20th, 2007

It is time for the Halifax region to start a Planning and Design Centre. Each of us is touched by the city’s skyline, streetscapes and the landscape of civic and solitary places. The type, quality and intensity of development; the balance between cars and transit; the environment, the economics, the physical infrastructure and the social network not only affect our individual lives, but also reflect our collective values. In a great city these fields are not seen as separate nor are they viewed as the domains of experts. The region is rich with opportunities and we all share a sense of responsibility to be informed, involved and engaged in shaping our community.

The future does not just happen, it is not predicted or projected or incrementally negotiated, or a simple extension of the past. We can have a hand in shaping it. Planning is about establishing a vision, setting a direction and taking informed strategic action. It is not restrictive or mysterious. It cannot be imposed nor can it be seen as the exclusive realm of professionals. It needs to be a process and an approach that is open and inclusive and part of everyday life. Similarly, design quality as it is reflected in every proposal, development and policy cannot be seen as a luxury, expensive or optional. We have to expect and demand creativity, quality and excellence.

Engagement in planning and design needs to be more than momentary. It goes beyond having a voice in the preparation of a plan or the right to be heard in response to a development proposal. It needs to be on- going and easily accessible and must become part of the culture of this community. The way to get the best development, to act on our collective aspirations, the way to understand that development is not good or de facto bad, that quality does not mean expensive or exclusive, that the past history and trends are not constraints, but can serve as a spring board is to make planning and design an integral part of everyday life in Halifax.

The Planning and Design Centre is a store-front operation that makes planning and design visible and open to discussion. It is a collaborative enterprise, common ground and a think tank that brings together the public, the business community, the development industry and different levels of government for a tangible purpose. The goal is to make the region a better place to live, grow up, do business and visit. This goal is accomplished through providing information, discussion and innovation. The Planning and Design Centre is currently in its development phase; the Centre is working to secure space, resources and funding.

Click here to read SEEK 002.