Wood Turtle delays trailer park

Historic harm threatening Wood Turtle habitat has delayed Upper Hammonds Plains development.

North West Community Council (Special), Dec. 14, 2020


Councillor Paul Russell, Chair (District 15)

Councillor Lisa Blackburn, Vice-Chair (District 14)

Councillor Cathy Deagle-Gammon (District 1)

Councillor Pamela Lovelace (District 13)

Deputy Mayor Tim Outhit (District 16)


Meeting recap (the important stuff):

A wood turtle habitat has, at the very least, delayed a 525 unit trailer park proposed for Old Truro Road

A petition with 500 signatures asking the community council to deny this application was presented to the council, and 20 people were scheduled to speak, but the delay comes from Paul Turbitt from Turtle Patrol. According to Councillor Blackburn, he reached out with concerns about the location of the trailer park. When city staff reached out to the province about it, they also had concerns about the location. The proposed site of the trailer park development appears to be a habitat of the threatened wood turtle. 

As a result, the North West Community Council voted to defer the motion and get more information. Since staff was going to be getting more information anyway, Councillor Deagle-Gammon requested city staff get more information on the water table impact and traffic impact statements. Water and traffic being the main concerns from the people who reached out to the council. 

Councillor Lovelace also wanted to make sure staff looked into whether there would be enough recreational capacity for 525 units worth of people in the area.

Staff has been directed to come back to council with answers in four months time. 

Councillor Lovelace also put forward a motion to amend the Land Use By-laws for Upper Hammonds Plains. This innocuous and very dry motion is designed to be a first step to start addressing some of the systemic, racist, governmental neglect and mismanagement that historic Black communities still face today in the HRM. 

Councillor Blackburn was appointed to the Grants Committee, Councillor Deagle-Gammon and Deputy Mayor Outhit were appointed to the Planning Advisory Committee.

Who said what (paraphrased): 

Blackburn: Well I’m done, let’s elect a Chair and Vice-Chair!

Outhit: I’d like to nominate Paul Russell for Chair.

Russell: I accept it, Vice-Chair? 

Outhit: I’d nominate Councillor Blackburn.

Blackburn: I accept. 

Russell: Changes to the order of business? 

Deagle-Gammon: I’d like to move that correspondence and petitions are heard before item 10.1.1. 

Blackburn: I’d like to defer 10.1.1. Due to information we have just learned. 

Russell: Although a motion to defer is always in order, can we wait until we hit this item to do it? 

Blackburn: Yes.

Russell: All in favour of the new order of business?

M/S/C – Unanimous – Aye

Russell: Onto the Clerk for correspondence and petitions!

Clerk: We received a lot about item 10.1.1. They’ve been circulated to the council. 

Russell: Petitions? 

Deagle-Gammon: I have a petition of 500 signatures requesting the community council reject the application for a high-density trailer park. (Item 10.1.1.)

Blackburn: I’d like to defer this motion due to information we just received. 

Staff (Shane): This file is for a 525 unit mobile home park. This application was from May, and last week we received a report from the province, that this area might be a habitat of an endangered species, specifically the wood turtle. Based on the newness of the information, we don’t know how the provincial legislation will impact the approval of this development. As city staff, we try and give informed opinions, but we just don’t know enough about this since we only just got this information. We’d need about four months. 

Outhit: I was expecting a request for a supplemental report, why do you need four months? 

Staff: We’re dealing with another level of government and the potential constraints that they may have getting their ducks in a row. We’ve been informed they may have a bunch of restraints on their end that will hold things up. 

Outhit: You did research it? 

Staff: It is an estimate, based on what we understand. 

Deagle-Gammon: There are a lot of other issues that will arise out of the public hearing, and the responses we’ve received. Is there a way to revisit some of the concerns our residents have during this delay? 

Russell: I think we can, we’d need to amend the deferral. 

Deagle-Gammon: We’d still have a public hearing? 

Russell: Yes.

Outhit: If Deagle-Gammon wants more information, and wants it formalized, I think amending this deferral would be smart. Not trying to put words in your mouth, but if you have specific questions, you may want to consider it. 

Deagle-Gammon: I’d like them to revisit how the new development will impact the water table of what’s already there. The study was only for about 135 and the development is for 525 units. The traffic study, the developer said they’d make the road to provincial standard and then deed it back. But no details. There’s no word on if or how emergency services can add this to their service area. 

Staff (Langille): Some of these requests might be outside of the scope of the policy we use to assess developments. 

Russell: Can these concerns be addressed by the scope of your mandate? 

Langille: Kind of. 

Russell: Do you need an amendment? 

Langille: It’d be helpful. 

Russell: Do you need it formalized or because we’ve talked about it, and it’s on the record it’s fine? 

Staff: Should be fine now as is.

Deagle-Gammon: I’ll defer to anyone else who thinks I may have missed anything? 

Lovelace: I’d like to know if there’s a memorandum of understanding from East Hants about increased recreation availability for this new population.

Russell: Let’s add it to the list.

Staff: Before deferring we’d like a timeframe for when this needs to be done. 

Russell: Four months, April meeting.

Russell: Deferral?

M/S/C – Unanimous – Aye

Russell: The public hearing has also been deferred, so I’d like to thank the 20 people who are on the line. We’ve read all your correspondence, we’ve taken your petition seriously. Thank you for your input. 

Staff: You missed the report.

Russell: I did!

Staff: There were no registered speakers.

Russell: Can I get a motion?

Lovelace: (Reads motion for agenda item 1.2 as written)

M/S/C – Unanimous – Aye

Russell: On to the next!

Outhit: (Reads the motion for agenda item 13.1.1 as written)

Staff: I don’t have a presentation since this is first reading, but I’m happy to answer any questions. 

Russell: With no questions, I’ll call the question

M/S/C – Unanimous – Aye

Russell: On to the next, approve our meeting schedule? 

M/S/C – Unanimous – Aye

Russell: Onto appointments to boards and committees.

Deagle-Gammon: (Reads motion for agenda item 13.1.3 as written

Staff: We are sending emails to facilitate this, we tried to use a Survey Monkey survey to do this, but it didn’t work, we’re doing this via email vote, and we’re sending it now. When you reply to this email do not ‘reply all,’ just reply to me, and then give us a second to tabulate the results.

(Everyone withdrew their name for Grants Committee except Councillor Blackburn, so she won it)

(Everyone withdrew their names for Planning Advisory except Outhit and Deagle-Gammon, so they got it)

Russell: On to 13.2.1, Councillor Lovelace.

Lovelace: (Reads the motion for 13.2.1 as written), as many of you know Upper Hammonds Plains is a historic Black community in Nova Scotia. They’ve been segregated and lost access and recreation to their lake. They’re also the first community to have an all Black volunteer fire fighting department. This happened because the white firefighters didn’t respond quickly enough. Now they’re having to fight again to make sure their community can use their land like they want to. 

Blackburn: We’ve been having to do this in Lucasville. What I’ve been doing is integrating it into the Regional Plan.

Langille: We’ve tried to help Councillor Lovelace word this to hit what she wanted with the motion. We’ll come back with an array of solutions from small ones that can be done by rural teams all the way to things to bring to council. 

Blackburn: Should I do this for Lucasville, if this is better? 

Langille: Maybe, we should talk after this meeting. 

Lovelace: One of the benefits of Lucasville is the boundaries have been defined. Upper Hammonds Plains hasn’t. 

Russell: Any further discussion? None?

M/S/C – Unanimous – Aye

Russell: We have In-Camera and non-In-Camera items, let’s do the non-In-Camera stuff first. Notices of motion? Seeing none. Next meeting? 

Outhit: Next year!

Russell: Jan. 11, 2021, motion to go in camera? 

*Meeting goes In-Camera*



Previous meeting minutes and current agenda:

Previous meeting

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.

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