The important stuff (motions under consideration and vote result):
This was the first meeting of this committee with new councillors. The public hearing for Case 21813 about the rezoning of Cow Bay Road was unanimously deferred by the committee to allow Eastern Passage’s new councillor, Becky Kent, to get up to speed on the application. Those who were scheduled to speak at the public hearing will be informed by staff about the new date, likely in January.
Councillor Hendsbee pushed hard for Case 22519, the proposed slaughterhouse on West Petpeswick Road, to have a public hearing in December, and they’ll be having a conversation in private as to whether that can be accommodated. He’s pushing hard for it because unlike everyone else who has an application that requires a public hearing, there are ‘serious financial implications’ for the applicant if it’s delayed. If their next meeting is still on Dec. 3, 2020, his request can’t be accommodated.
All of the staff reports that were up for review are going to carry on getting a report since they all made the cut.
And the proposed development on Rosedale Drive (Case 21584) that staff recommend rejecting is not quite clear cut. Staff had to analyze the project under the old Dartmouth planning strategy and not the new Centre Plan. The development doesn’t work with the old plan, and wouldn’t work as is with the current Centre Plan. New Councillors Purdy and Kent pushed staff on whether the urgent need for housing was considered at all. It wasn’t, since it’s outside of the scope of what staff evaluates. There’s also a concern that the project would look completely different under the Centre Plan, so Councillor Austin put forward a motion to defer as well as attaching a request for more information about what this project would look like under the Centre Plan, as well as asking the developer if there was anything they could do to make it work under the old Dartmouth plan.
Who said what (paraphrased):
Mancini: Before we go live, David’s always late, even online, don’t know how he does that.
Staff: You are live.
Mancini: Ah, well, first and foremost, we need to welcome our new councillors. Let’s go around and introduce ourselves.
(Councillors introduce themselves, staff, and approve the minutes from the last meeting and the order of business)
Mancini: We’re on to hearings, starting with Case 21813, where Councillor Kent’s motion comes in.
Kent: I would like to defer this case. I’d like to thank everyone for their time in this case, and I know it’s important to this community. I’m a new councillor and eight working days for me to get up to speed with this case would be greatly appreciated. I’ve been elected to represent the people of this district and I haven’t had enough time to be properly informed.
Mancini: Hendsbee wants to know when this would be deferred to?
Staff: Probably the first meeting in January.
Austin: I support Kent’s request, we were torn in the last meeting as to whether or not we should do this on this meeting, and with her request, I think we should have done this from the start.
Vote: Deferral: Unanimous – Aye.
Mancini: Staff will you be making sure you contact all the people who signed up to speak?
Staff: Yes and we’ll post new ads.
Mancini: Do we have correspondence?
Staff: Yes, related to the hearing we just deferred. I’ve sent them out.
Mancini: On to Case 22519.
Hendsbee: (Reads the motion 13.1.1 as written) With covid I don’t know how in-person public hearings will work, but I know they’ve been waiting for a while and there are financial implications to this and they’ve been waiting a long time. Is there any way to have this meeting in December?
Staff: Depends on a lot.
Hendsbee: It should be as soon as possible.
Vote: Unanimous – Aye
Kent: (Reads the motion 13.1.2 as written) I’m good with those reports and we should leave them intact.
Austin: It’s a whole lot easier to do this list compared to council! I think we should keep ‘em.
Vote: Unanimous – Aye.
Austin: (Reads the motion 13.1.3 as written) This one’s a struggle, we don’t normally get recommendations to reject. I find myself torn. There are positive aspects to the project. The site right now is pretty underused. I think where I’m coming down on it right now is deferring. But I’d like to hear from staff about it. As I understand it, it comes down to mass and scale.
Staff: (Is making a presentation that’s a synopsis of the development agreement for Case 21584) It’s two towers, shared parking, landscaped green space between the two towers. The development agreement is under the old Dartmouth municipal planning strategy, not the Centre Plan. Which gives them two years to complete the application. Massive changes to the agreement would require them to make a new agreement following the Centre Plan. According to the Dartmouth plan, staff recommend rejecting because it’s not consistent with the existing neighbourhood due to its height, mass, and scale.
Austin: Thank you, what does the back of the building look like? It’s not clear how tall it is.
Staff: The height of the retaining wall for building A (the one on Hester Street), is measured in the architect’s plan. But it’s hard to see in the rendering.
Austin: You’ve worked with Fathom a lot, is it close to a positive place or is it just not quite going to make it?
Staff: The consistency is the tricky bit. How do you go from one and a half story split level houses to 11 stories? But there are parts that blend quite nicely.
Purdy: Because it got grandfathered, and doesn’t meet the Dartmouth plan, would it make the cut in the Centre Plan?
Staff: I don’t know, we didn’t evaluate it based on the Centre Plan.
Staff: There are three different policy goals: keep it the same, change it, or a hybrid. The old Dartmouth plan is to ‘preserve character’. Centre Plan is more ‘create a new context’. So it’d be hard to say because the Centre Plan would give us a new building plan.
Purdy: Where does the need for housing, and our low vacancy rate fall in to the Dartmouth plan? Would housing take a priority?
Staff: The Dartmouth plan doesn’t call for any consideration for housing. We talk about it with the applicant, and they can do stuff with other parts of city staff, but we don’t do that.
Kent: I feel your pain Councillor Austin, the priority of preserving heritage and the housing crisis are at odds. Was there any consideration about housing in this process? Affordability is important, yes, but we’re in a housing crisis. Denser housing that reduces urban sprawl would be important. Was there an acknowledgement of the housing crisis in your work?
Staff: No. The applicant is in the meeting though.
Mancini: It’s not a public hearing so it’s not appropriate for the developer to speak.
Hendsebee: Is it just the timing of this? If they’d come in under the new Centre Plan they’d be having an easier time with this application? Would it better to withdraw and resubmit under the Centre Plan?
Austin: The Centre Plan would allow a six-story building, so not quite. But they’ve done a good job with the green space. With the Centre Plan, we’d probably have a bunch of six-story buildings instead of the green space. We were worried about a situation exactly like this when we first talked about the Centre Plan. We need to make sure we’re clear with what the consequences could be if we say no to this because something will happen with this space. A new Centre Plan application could be worse. So I’d like to defer this and request a supplemental report explaining what this might look like under the Centre Plan and ask the applicant what they could do to make this current plan better.
Mancini: Can we defer this without taking an attached motion off the floor?
Austin: I think we should have an evaluation about what an alternative plan could be before we have a public hearing. And I’d like to see if the applicant can make changes to make it more acceptable, I’d like to give staff a chance to have that conversation with the developers.
Vote: Deferral, with Austin’s motion for more info: Unanimous – Aye.
Hendsbee: Our next meeting is December 3, can we get case 22519 moved up to December 3?
Staff: Probably not, but if you could move the meeting maybe.
Hendsbee: If we moved it, it could work.
Staff: Dec. 10 would work.
Mancini: Should we take this convo offline?
Hendsbee: We’d need to do it now though, since it’s on the agenda?
Staff: There might be conflicts.
Mancini: Let’s do this offline, your desire to get this through in December is noted.
Meeting is Adjourned.
Previous meeting minutes and current agenda:
A former Naval Officer turned journalist, Matt Stickland is committed to empowering his community to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need to make their city a better place.