Halifax City hall through the memorial arch
Municipal

Middle Sackville Master Plan in the works

Millwood Drive development gets conditional recommendation
 | May 6, 2021

North West Planning Advisory Committee, May 5, 2021

Meeting recap (the important stuff)

North West Planning Advisory Committee talked about Case 23058, which is a development that’s being planned at Millwood and Sackville Drive. The committee said they were generally okay with the plan, as long as the development had taken into consideration the traffic, school seat availability, and landscaped in such a way to increase privacy and decrease noise for the properties next to the proposed development. 

The advisory committee is also in the process of developing a master plan for the Middle Sackville area. To get the full details on that process scroll down until you see around 30 screenshots in a row. That’s a presentation by city planning all-star Stephanie Salloum, which should be required reading for all. 

Committee members raised concerns about the lack of environmental consideration, generally, in city planning and expressed their desire to have it included in the master plan. Some committee members also raised concerns that this whole process would be a waste of time, since development agreements can be, and frequently are, amended to do what the developer wants, instead of what the zoning or plan for the area dictates. City planner Shayne Vipond assured the committee that amendments would be harder because it would just be as of right development (things allowed by the zoning). The zoning in the master plan would be entrenched in policy to make changing the zoning harder.

Who said what (paraphrased): 

Merritt: First order of business, the first presentation from KVM Consultants, Case 23058! Staff presentation. 

Dean MacDougall: I’m the city planner for this development agreement. Here’s what they’re proposing:

MacDougall: We’ve gotten two phone calls and six written correspondence. They’re worried about the development’s impact on next door houses, traffic, and the impact of school enrollment. We’re here seeking your recommendations or advice on the development. 

Horne: My recommendation would be to add landscaping and lighting control for the benefit of the abutting residences. 

Deagle-Gammon: What is the landscaping that will respect privacy and reduce noise for abutting properties? 

MacDougall: It’s not finalized yet but there will be a retaining wall, which will provide some buffer for sound. 

Outhit: I don’t think seedlings will be enough for privacy, so keep that in mind. 

Russell: I’m curious about school attendance, how close are the adjacent schools to being at peak capacity? 

MacDougall: For the next 10 years Millwood and Sackville High are projected to be over capacity and Sackville Jr is expected to be at capacity. 

Russell: Population’s on the rise like crazy, so if we can advocate for additional school spaces, not just portables, we should. 

Blackburn: I agree with Russell, the time is now to have these conversations before we hit a major crunch with schools. The other thing I’ve been hearing was about fire ants, can you talk about that? 

MacDougall: They’d be able to deal with the fire ants during construction if they need to. If the construction doesn’t remove them. 

Merritt: Pandemic or no pandemic the traffic is getting worse. The traffic studies never say traffic will be a problem, even on Bedford Highway (she needs to read Committee Trawler)! That’s my biggest concern, we have to hope everyone takes the bus, I guess. *Lists concerns and suggestions above*

LeVert: I’ll make a motion to agreeing with the development agreement with conditions, as discussed. 

*Discussion with staff about the wording of the motion

M/S/CVoteAyeUnanimous

Merritt: On to the next presentation for Case 21639, Middle Sackville Master Plan. 

Stephanie Salloum: Here’s how planning happens in the HRM (oh man! I love Salloum’s presentations, whatever she’s being paid, it’s not enough). This presentation can be used as a resource for you, so it’s a bit text heavy. 

Salloum: Does Vipond have anything to add? 

Shayne Vipond: When she talked about Port Wallace and Bedford West, urban distract growth centres, the way that those were managed was policy was put in place to deal with financial issues and how streets would align, where services could go, where spaces would be open, where density would go, etc. That’s one model, and still being pursued in various places in the municipality. There’s only a few places where these things are complete or advancing. In Middle Sackville it’s different because the infrastructure, the roads, are already in there. Highway 101 and Margeson are already built. This is a more simplified process that’s intended to develop each parcel of Middle Sackville on the community’s vision and developer input, because they need to have a voice otherwise things don’t get developed. It can’t just be up to the community (why not, exactly?). Since there isn’t any policy in place right now to direct this development, we need to make one. On the next day we’re going to come with more details, today’s just a bit of an overview to assure you this plan is doable at the level of this committee. We have a public meeting date planned, so we can bring those plans to the next meeting too. 

Rudderham: One of the things I’ve noticed about this area is that there’s a proposal to change the timeline on development. But there’s a lot of development that’s already taken place and your maps seem to be out of date, they should be updated for this process. There are streets completely built missing from your maps. One of the things I’d like to understand better is how this plan and process is going to impact the future number of zoning amendments and changes in the HRM. Plans are made, a vision is made, and then before it’s used people are applying for amendments to it. So what’s the value in this process with amendments? Most of the amendments have been long term proposals, and amendments change the plan, so what’s the purpose of this master plan? 

LeVert: I really appreciate this presentation (me too!). How much of the community visioning has already happened? There seems to be a lot of work that’s already happened, so is it circular? Always continuing? 

Vipond: The community vision started in 2009 and finished in 2011. The implementation was envisioned to follow that vision plan. But then priorities and resources changed internally and the implementation was put on hold, since the regional plan was being worked on. So it got shelved. It’s done though. We’re behind in implementing it. We’re only looking at the master plan as viable because it’s in a growth centre. The vision is complete, it can be modified, but it’s conceptual. We need to make sure the implementation of the vision is accurately representing the vision. To touch on Rudderham’s point, we’re trying to entrench these land use policies so they’re hard to be amended. In order to go back and change things it would have to be in the spirit of the policy. 

Horne: There was a development in East Hantz that highlighted the species at risk, the wood turtle, and it went through a lot of levels. Should we be including environmental review so this doesn’t happen again? So if there’s a glaring environmental flaw we can just say no right away? 

Vipond: The other application, if we had hindsight, we might have been able to contact provincial authorities (it got sent back to staff to do just that). We don’t have any jurisdiction to save species at risk, and they have a permit based system. They’re a higher order of government with their own processes. If it was a species at risk they have their own process. 

Horne: I understand jurisdiction, what I mean is that we spent a lot of time on this, and in this case it might be wasted. 

Vipond: The four month delay to get the supplementary report would have been avoided. But we will have regard for all of these issues moving forward.

Deagle-Gammon: I didn’t see this presentation when I did my prep for this, will we be getting a copy of this presentation? It was a great presentation (it was!). You had the four disks of planning in the presentation and environment was one of those. So have more emphasis on the environment, and also HalifACT. Any master plan should follow these priorities. 

Outhit: I’m a bit concerned about these absences, we don’t want to start at square one every meeting. So we should make sure they get this excellent presentation. I ranted last time about how we need to learn about what went wrong in West Bedford, it’s unfortunate, I’m not the councillor for this area but I would not want to be going into this with a vision that’s 11 years old. I hope there will be some check-ins. What everyone thought was cool 12 years ago isn’t always cool anymore (Farmville anyone?). There are going to be transit demands. When people move into places they need to know what to expect. So if someone moves into a neighbourhood for the trees, they’re not replaced with a development agreement amendment and the trees become condo towers. I don’t know a development agreement that can’t be amended. So I don’t know how you’re going to make it harder to amend, but you should.   

Vipond: We’re not proposing to use development agreements in this area, just by zone.

Outhit: And applying to rezone won’t be easy? 

Vipond: No, it’ll be entrenched in policy. 

Russell: (HIS CAMERA IS OFF, GET HIM CITY LAWYERS) Nothing to add. 

Outhit: Can I get a response to my concern that the plan is out of date? Not out of date, old. Will there be check-ins? 

Salloum: Yes, we have public consultation planned, and ways for the community to get involved. It’s mandated, and the first one will be in June. And we’re going to have an interactive website. 

Merritt: Thank you to the planners for these presentations. 

Vipond: We’re thinking about doing a subcommittee, because the agendas coming up are going to be full. Everyone’s invited to join. This has to go to council for approval though. So think about it. 

Merritt: So if there’s nothing else, I think that’s it. 

*Meeting adjourned*

Present:

Ann Merritt, Chair

Nicholas Horne, Vice Chair

Deputy Mayor Tim Outhit (District 16)

Councillor Kathy Deagle-Gammon (District 1)

Gina Jones-Wilson

Jacqueline LeVert

Stacey Rudderham

Councillor Paul Russell (Also present)

Councillor Lisa Blackburn (Also present)

Absent: 

Ryan Donato

Jordan Foster 

Donalda MacIsaac

Interviews:

N/A – COVID

Previous meeting minutes and current agenda:

Previous meeting

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.

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