Shannon Park development, complete with 3,000 residential units, gets green light

MacKay Bridge as seen from Shannon Park on Jan. 8, 2019. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
MacKay Bridge as seen from Shannon Park on Jan. 8, 2019. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

The redevelopment of Shannon Park will proceed after it was approved by Harbour East Marine Drive community council Thursday night.

The site's owner, Canada Lands, promises 20 per cent of the housing will be affordable.

The plan includes 3,000 new residential units, a transit hub and two large parks. Canada Lands, a federal Crown corporation, will be selling parcels of land to other developers starting next year.

"I will support this wholeheartedly, it's a good plan and it's been a long time coming," said Coun. Sam Austin ahead of the vote Thursday night.

But Austin said the province and federal government must help to make the affordable housing bit happen.

"They need to be involved in Shannon Park, working on that development to create those units in the space rather than just expecting the developer and the non-affordable units in there to carry the whole societal freight of that crisis that we're in," he said.

"We all need to be contributing, and the way to do that is how we do collective stuff — it's through government."

Public support

Several members of the public spoke in support of the project.

Patty Christie lived in Shannon Park in the 1960s and 70s.

"I was very pleased with Canada Lands' vision for a new community, a community consisting of residential retail space coupled with parks and outdoor recreation areas," she said.

"There will never be another Shannon Park as I know it and I applaud Canada Lands' commitment to create something similar."

Christie said the 3,000 planned units are "desperately needed" even though she might not be able to afford to live there.

"I think it's just as important to have more housing in HRM," she said.

Permanent affordable housing

Maura Donovan, who lives in downtown Dartmouth, said the affordable housing built needs to be permanent.

"Something that's affordable for 20 years, it's awful, there's nothing good about that," she said. "It's a poor investment in terms of public money to have things be affordable for a very short period of time in the life of a building."

Michael Acker, another Dartmouth resident, said the new housing must keep seniors in mind. "As a senior who is aging quickly, I'm concerned that element of the plan is not getting the attention that it needs," he said.

Acker said he would like to see a seniors' home and a new medical clinic in the community.

"What a great opportunity we have to work on this project to look at aging in place, housing for seniors to a long-term care facility and take that a step further," he said.