North West Community Council, June 14, 2021
Meeting recap (the important stuff):
It was a busy meeting for the North West Community Council, with one of their debates centred around a school bus yard in Lucasville. One of the members of the public that called in, Natalie Downie, pointed out a number of issues with the city’s development process. Downie suggested people with money seem to be able to build whatever they want and when the city finds out they just hire a consultant to make it legal, which isn’t an option for people without money. She also pointed out the people who were notified of this development were largely residents of the trailer park next door, which is owned by the same people who are trying to make the bus yard legal. Downie and another caller, Iris Drummond, noted people could be or were afraid to speak out against their landlord.
A very brief history lesson; Lucasville is one of Canada’s oldest African Nova Scotian communities, and the Lucasville Community Association has been fighting for their community for a long time. The other issue raised by Downie is this bus yard exists in Lucasville, and the residents of Lucasville have a vision for how they want to develop their community, but they weren’t notified of the development agreement.
City planner Shayne Vipond said in response to that concern they did send out notifications to a large number of people surrounding this area, but they didn’t send it to everyone because the case is about this one specific bus yard. Vipond said they only send out notifications to everyone affected if the changes aren’t specific to a single case. But the proposed bylaw changes will alter what’s allowed in the mixed use zoning of the whole area governed by the land use bylaw for Beaver Bank, Hammonds Plains and Upper Sackville. This was later confirmed by Vipond’s superior, Thea Langille, who told Councillor Lovelace the public notice didn’t have an address because it was a change of policy for an entire area.
The bus yard owned by Tracy and Blaine Hefler was approved by the community council after much debate.
The community council also heard about an outdoor dog run going in on Glen Arbour Way. This development proposed by Tier Too Properties was sent back to the drawing board after its initial run through the planning process. A dog kennel is a permitted use for the land right now, but having an outdoor yard for the dogs requires a development agreement. There was concern with the initial plan in November that being 75 feet from someone’s house was too close and the dog run needed to be farther away. During the public hearing Reggie Stallard, whose office is right next door to the new dog run location, pointed out that this new plan is ridiculous. He pointed out if 75 feet was too close, then his closer property should also be too close. Councillor Lovelace said she was encouraged Tier Too Properties seemed keen to run the business in a positive way, and the dog run was approved.
The community council also heard from Wolves Lacrosse about the need for a rink without ice to play, since their sport is being squeezed out by hockey.
They also gave first reading and scheduled public hearings for zoning the Sunnyside Elementary School grounds for housing, and a request from a developer to make smaller townhouses. Councillor Outhit had slight reservations about both but not enough to prevent them from going to a public hearing.
And finally, they also directed the CAO to come up with a land use bylaw change to allow larger sheds in Sackville. When that comes back it’ll get first reading and a public hearing.
Who said what (paraphrased):
Russell: I believe there’s a change to the agenda, are we moving up one of the items? 11.3.1? To be after item 9, so we can start the public hearings at 7 p.m., since that’s when the start times have been advertised, and that way the meeting won’t run late.
Lovelace: I’ll move that.
Russell: Lacrosse presentation!
Catherine Martin, Wolves Lacrosse: We need a dry floor sport facility, there’s limited space for adults. We lost the last season due to COVID and are currently suspended this season. In spite of this, we’ve had a record year with signups. There’s been a growth in the number of athletes in Nova Scotia recently. Lacrosse will be part of the Canada Summer Games again for the first time since 1985. The Thunderbirds have also come here. The need is for a dry floor (dry floor is basically a rink with no ice and proper line markings). We compete with other things like roller hockey and roller derby. Spring hockey camps are also pressuring rinks to keep their ice in. There’s just not enough time for our sport, our seasons are short and intense due to floor time, 3-4 games a week. There’s no time for development. Land has been offered to our group to build a dry floor facility next to the Atlantic Tennis Centre, and with an all-weather field. We’d like you to consider the proposal put forward by the developer to rezone part of the land for residential, to facilitate the building of the facility.
Pam Glode: We believe there’s an opportunity to highlight the cultural history of the game. There can be a space, this space can be used in fact, to help celebrate our Mi’kmaq culture. There are also traditional pieces of equipment. This would be done with engagement through the friendship centre. It would draw tourism, there’s no place in Nova Scotia that’s specific to lacrosse. It’s a great reconciliation sport I believe. I think it’s an opportunity for this area to grow in a unique way.
Deagle-Gammon: You talked about the proposed soccer and football field, is that ongoing? Is this going to be a complete sports facility?
Martin: The developer has been in talks with us, and the tennis centre, to see if there’s interest. But it’s available for that purpose.
Outhit: This group has presented before, and I’m intrigued, but I’m a bit wary of the group having to lobby council to get some free land from the developer. This land may very well be rezoned, staff were initially hesitant. There was concern about the lack of light industrial, but is this something that would be done site-specific or as a part of the regional plan?
Thea Langille: I anticipated this question! In the initiation report for the regional plan review in January 2020, these lands were identified as part of the regional plan review. They are a business industrial land designation. We are aware of the developer’s plan. The vision doesn’t align with either plan for the area. The review will be looking at these lands’ role, so we’ll be seeing if residential facilities would be appropriate for these lands.
Outhit: This is a little more complicated than you might think, and it’s about two years out. Just for the presenters’ information.
Langille: Yes, about two years. But even if it wasn’t part of the larger review, it would still take about 18 months for a site-specific review.
Outhit: Has the developer said they’re only interested in this if it’s rezoned to residential? Industrial could still have a rink.
Martin: This conversation has been ongoing for 18 months, we’d started it with (former Councillor) Steve Craig prior to the opportunity with this developer.
Russell: On the first slide you said the season is from May 1 to July 1, is that due to the lack of availability or is this the standard season?
Glode: It’s the only time we could get into a rink somewhere. Each year it gets shorter and shorter so our season is adjusted due to hockey. Our season is dictated by hockey.
Russell: The lacrosse rink (box) is the same size as a hockey rink?
Russell: On to 11.1, correspondence
Clerk: Yes, we got some for the public hearings and the Wolves presentation.
Russell: On to 13.1.1, Case 23405, staff presentation!
Peter Nightingale: This is an amendment to the Sackville land use bylaw to make accessory buildings bigger, this came from council but fits with the municipal planning strategy, so it’s just s straight land use issue. Generally, the residential lands in the area are urban or rural residential designations and don’t really speak to accessory structures. Our analysis from the initial motion led to us expanding the scope to make it better reflect what’s currently happening. There’s been no public engagement because it’s not the time for that yet. If you want to move forward, we will. We recommend the community council direct the CAO to increase the structure size allowed for accessory buildings.
Lovelace: *Reads the motion for agenda item 13.1.1 as written* Question about the term or definition of large lots. Should we be more specific about 40,000 square feet? Or is it known due to regulations?
Nightingale: We used 40,000 square feet because that’s what it is for height, but we’re not tied down to that number if the public doesn’t want that. That’s just the number we chose for initial analysis.
Lovelace: Are all of these lots serviced? Unserviced? Mixed?
Nightingale: It’s an oddity of an area. The service area boundary is in most of the area, even though the services aren’t actually going out that far. Some developers decided to build unserviced lots in service area because the extension to connect was too far away. There wasn’t a good way to accurately represent that. That’s why we thought service areas were a good way to figure out where larger structures could be allowed.
Deagle-Gammon: What is the impact on other areas if this happens here? Like if other districts have similar issues?
Nightingale: Sackville is among the most restrictive for accessory buildings. The Beaver Bank land use bylaw, they have some looser restrictions even on the same zoning. There could be a request from other communities to look at similar things, but most communities already have an allowance for larger buildings.
Langille: This is probably the third report staff has written on this specific issue but when it went to council they didn’t really want to do anything with it, so we haven’t. We’ve been talking about it for 20 years.
Blackburn: I brought this forward to regional council, from a resident of Wilson Lake Drive.
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Unanimous
Russell: On to the next presentation, Case 21996!
Sean Gillis: I don’t have a presentation? It’s just a discussion?
Outhit: This land used to be a school, it was going to be put on the market, and I asked to have it rezoned before it goes on the market. Quick question for Gillis, this area right now has duplexes and stuff, and townhouses might be appropriate. We don’t want low or mid-rise. What would the zone need to be for townhouses?
Gillis: Give me a couple of minutes to look that up.
Russell: Can you put the motion on the floor? We can amend it with his answer.
Outhit: *Reads the motion for agenda item 13.1.2*
Langille: The current zoning in the motion would not allow for townhouses.
Gillis: Yes, that’s correct.
Outhit: Would RTH do what I want? Can I zone it for two things at once?
Gillis: No. It would be a change to the map. Maybe corporate real estate could tell us how they plan to market it?
Russell: Is anyone here from corporate real estate?
Outhit: Maybe we should move ahead with this and talk offline, Gillis?
Gillis: Maybe recommend we bring forward mapping and thoughts for townhouse zoning? Could maybe avoid a supplemental report?
Russell: Would that take longer?
Gillis: Maybe a week?
Clerk: The earliest council meeting is July 20 that this could come to.
Outhit: I’m okay with that.
*General discussion about logistics and wording of the amendment*
Russell: Any further questions?
Gillis: Just to confirm, the recommendation will be to council based on this discussion of what we see fit? No direct direction? (Someone nodded offscreen) Okay, thanks.
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Unanimous
Russell: Public hearing, first up Case 23111! There are four speakers registered.
Shayne Vipond: This is for 1155 Lucasville Road to add a school bus depot. It’s located beside Timber Trails. It’s already been in operation for 15 years as a school bus property but has hit the threshold and become non-compliant. This started as an application to rezone from mixed used to mixed industrial. But it makes more sense to add a school bus yard to mixed use, instead of rezoning to industrial use. The initial rezoning was because there was a transportation yard in the industrial zone but other things also allowed by the industrial zoning are quite heavy land uses for right next to a residential park. The North West Planning Advisory Committee said we should add a school bus yard to the zone, and add a setback and limits on refuelling. In our public feedback, a lot of people didn’t know it was there, they were supportive of the bus yard, and against the rezoning to industrial. In addition to the setback, no more than 25 per cent of the yard should be used for a bus yard. This change means any mixed use land could have a bus yard, so by introducing the setback and lot area limitations that allows us to curtail a potential bus yard proliferation. We recommend approving the changes.
Outhit: The advisory committee had a concern about the buffer, and you’ve added a buffer. Is that really what the advisory committee was looking for? There’s a difference between a buffer and just parking the busses 60 metres from the edge of the property?
Vipond: In the rural context, this 60 metres encompasses all of that.
Outhit: I think I’m still okay with this, I was trying to remember the spirit of their debate.
Lovelace: I appreciate the need to have the buffer, especially in the mornings when all the vehicles are idling. Are there any restrictions we can put on excessive idling?
Vipond: I don’t know if we have any authority over that.
Langille: We don’t have authority under the land use bylaw.
Russell: Would the Charter prevent us from insisting on some sort of fence instead of just relying on a distance?
Vipond: We could do that.
Russell: On to the applicant, are you here?
Chrystal Fuller: Tracy and Blaine Hefler bought this property in 1999, it started being used as a bus parking lot around 2005. *Missed a bit because Teddy is missing which is DEVASTATING to the bedtime routine* The bus parking is the current use. There was a traffic study done and there’s capacity in the infrastructure. This seems like a fairly minor adjustment to the zone.
Blackburn: I had a question about the lot coverage is to be 25 per cent, where is the lot now with that per cent?
Fuller: There’s no plan to grow it, we just want to legalize existing use. 25 per cent of an eight acre lot is still a lot of space. It’s enough for the applicant.
Deagle-Gammon: It looks like it’s all on one side of the road in this presentation, but when I drive by busses are on both sides?
Vipond: The busses across the road are a different matter, and they would have to comply with these rules, should it be passed.
Russell: How many MU-1 properties do we have that this might impact?
Vipond: We didn’t do that analysis.
Langille: We’re talking about a very unique land use, so the definition is quite limited. We think it’s probably just this location.
Russell: Who were the notifications mailed to? Adjacent areas? Or anyone who is on MU-1 zoned land?
Vipond: Just adjacent.
Randy: I have some concerns. In going through the reports and the traffic impact study, they were using older Google Earth maps for the property in question. These maps left out the extension of Ninth Street and Eleventh Street. Is there actually going to be that 200 foot buffer between the bus yard and the people who now live on Eleventh Street? The yard down the road has been used during the summer and has hundreds of busses that park there in the summer, not the 40-50 mentioned. I just wonder how that’s going to affect them. And that’s all I have.
Vipond: The 200 foot setback will apply from the rear of Eleventh Street, which is the new lot, and will be measured from the rear of the lots on Eleventh Street. If these changes are made the lot across the street will only be able to use 25 per cent of the lot, so if it’s 34 acres it would have to be reduced by 75 per cent. And they’ll have to have a setback from 200 foot from the closest residential area.
Debra Lucas: I’m the chair of the Lucasville Community Association. We have sent in a presentation and I’m just going to highlight a few things. Lucasville Road is already plagued by large vehicles, the road is not wide enough for it. We really don’t need an industrial zone in our community.
Iris Drummond: It’s good to see you all again. I was surprised last night to learn that in October there were letters and emails sent out to certain residents but we didn’t receive them. Only some parts of the trailer park I guess. We’re all part of Lucasville, I always took for granted that bus parking would have been in line with the zoning of the area. The pad where the bus is parked is no eight acres, it’s two acres. The limit shouldn’t apply to the whole eight acres, just the parking pad. The parts of the land that have the buildings for maintenance shouldn’t be considered part of this. That parking pad is more than 25 per cent full. Derelict school buses shouldn’t be permitted in school bus yards. You heard from Vipond that this won’t just affect this lot, it will affect all MU-1. This really has to be looked at, there should be a meeting for all of Lucasville. I’m glad you dropped the industrial zoning.
Natalie Downie: Councillor Russell you are my councillor! I think we all recognize that we have an overdue reckoning with race in this municipality and province. The municipality does legislation backwards. People with money do what they want, then when they get dinged hire a consultant, and they get it legalized. It’s something the average person in Lucasville can’t afford to do. There has been no consultation with the trailer park, the people who live there who pay rent to the landowners of this development. You’ve omitted, hopefully unintentionally, the residents of Lucasville. They have a vision for how they want to develop their community, they don’t want what’s happened to Beechville to happen to them. I always thought the bus pad was something the school board needed. I didn’t realize it was a private business venture. It’s been there since 2005 but I don’t think people knew then it was going to be there. You talk about the traffic stuff but it’s in direct contradiction to what the community has experienced. You can’t walk on that road.
Lovelace: With regard to the public notice, the community name wasn’t in the public notice. Did you see the advertisement in the Herald?
Downie: No, someone else did.
Russell: Let’s close the public hearing.
Clerk: You need to give the applicant five minutes.
Fuller: There’s been some comments today about the process, but I want to remind the council that there’s been no malintent, it was just something that kind of grew out of an initial request. The other thing I would remind the council of is that the planning documents are older in this area. There’s a vision for the community but the planning documents don’t reflect that. I understand that might be evolving but that’s not what the rules are right now.
Russell: We’ll take your comments and concerns into consideration.
*Closed public hearing*
Vipond: Staff would like the opportunity to circulate the notifications to all of Lucasville, but it’s a matter of to what extent can we circulate and what resources do we have? In the rural context, when we think we’ve gone far enough, we double it. And might increase that again. Which I did this case. It didn’t extend into parts of Lucasville which would be captured. If this was a policy or regulation case we might have distributed it to a larger area (Point of order, land use bylaws are both policy and regulation). We decided circulation was sufficient so we’ll live with that (point of order, you won’t live with it, the people who live in Lucasville will.)
Deagle-Gammon: When we think about the unique nature of African Nova Scotian communities, and the people who got the notice were also tenants of the applicant. So, do we take into account other factors? I see this as a very unique difference. Moving forward can we consider other unique factors.
Vipond: It wasn’t just the Timber Trails who were notified, they just happened to be in the circulation area. No one will dispute the uniqueness of Lucasville, all of these communities have pride. They all have a sense of home. There are appropriate times where we have to expand our horizons, like a change to one of the regulations that is controversial, that would impact the whole area, in those instances we would be comprehensive. But everyday applications, we just follow protocol.
Langille: We only have legislative obligations to do newspaper ads, but we also do other things like put signs on fences. With this particular file we took a range of approaches. The signs that are placed on the property are an immediate notice. Legally we had to reference the document name in the title, which doesn’t include Lucasville.
Outhit: Some members had concerns about what would have been the industrial zone, if council were to say we don’t want to approve this zoning, what would happen? Could they just continue on as a non-conforming use? Would there be a legal battle? What are the repercussions?
Vipond: If council chooses not to approve this it becomes a compliance matter and they’d have to remove the school buses.
Outhit: And there’s an appeal process?
Vipond: Yes, regardless of your decision.
Lovelace: I just want to point out that I requested a copy of the ad that went out to compare the copy. The ad for this application doesn’t include a location, but the other public hearing after this had an address. That’d be helpful so that when people read the ad they’ll know it’s in their neighbourhood.
Langille: The two applications in the ads are very different, one is a specific case. And this one is for the overall zone (which really seems like it should fit Vipond’s requirements for wider distribution).
Lovelace: Yes, it’s throughout the area, because of a specific case, point taken.
Blackburn: *Reads the motion for agenda item 10.1.1 as written* This zone is currently permitted for MU-1, which allows for trucking and landscaping. This bus parking lot isn’t too much different than what’s currently allowed. I think the concerns brought forward will be mitigated by the restrictions. These restrictions will protect the community more than they’re being protected right now.
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Unanimous
Russell: Case 23061, public hearing! First up, staff presentation.
Peter Nightingale: This is for an outdoor dog run for a dog kennel. Indoor runs are allowed as of right. There are a lot of treed areas as buffers. The property is designated as Mixed Use B, to encourage mixed development. There are several criteria required for this site, it can’t be in a residential zone, which it is not. It needs to be compatible with the surrounding areas, and there’s a mix of uses nearby. They’re limiting the number of dogs to 30, there’s parking provided at the plaza, and there is a tree buffer and setback. Dogs outside need to be in limited times of day. Waste needs to be disposed of. They’re planning on using artificial turf for easier maintenance. We did consultation, we got 7 calls and emails. There was concern about the noise from the dogs, not enough buffer, that the business will attract rats, and people said there are already enough doggy daycares in the area. The initial application was refuse by the advisory committee because it wasn’t a good fit and there’s no good way to mitigate the noise of dogs. So the developer moved the dog run to a different lot they own in the same area. Now the dog run is 60 metres away from the nearest house. They increased the size of the dog run but didn’t increase the limit. Since these changes were substantial we went back to the advisory committee and this time they recommended approval, with consideration to the number of dogs, when dogs were allowed outside, tree buffers. And the developer has included those. This property is also subject to the animal bylaw, which is no excessive barking or howling for 20 minutes. We recommend approving this development agreement.
Russell: We are running late, we had a more fulsome discussion than anticipated. Should we defer the policy review until the July meeting or a special meeting? (Yes. Oh god please yes. Please please yes.)
Outhit: I’m okay with a deferral, your discretion.
Blackburn: This Thursday we have a meeting if required booked in, is that an anomaly?
Clerk: I noticed that today too, it’s an anomaly. Given our rules to procedure we couldn’t schedule a meeting for this Thursday.
*Deferring the regional plan review!*
Russell: Questions on the dog run?
Lovelace: We have these all across the city, the concern about rats, can you clarify that?
Nightingale: This was brought up as a concern by the public, it hasn’t been on our radar, we have standard language we use to make sure the waste is cleaned up, stored and disposed of properly. It’s not in the development agreement but it would be a compliance matter.
Craig Duininck: We’re looking to construct in 2022. The doggy daycare is allowed as of right, but the outside dog run required a development agreement. We moved the dog run based on community concerns. (Straight up, I just zoned out as he’s repeating what the city planner just said, but with a sales pitch flavour)
Lovelace: One question, what happens to the runoff? Can you explain what happens with the water runoff when you’re cleaning the turf?
Duin: They plan to have a drainage system in the centre of the mat, there will be some runoff, but we think it’ll be minimal.
Russell: Public hearing time.
Reggie Stallard: We’re now next to the property, it was said we were a warehouse, but we are not. We are a retail store. There’s a similar place in Burnside, and they have the same setbacks, and it doesn’t do anything to reduce the noise. It’s not quite as rosy as this gentleman is saying. This has been moved way up into our yard and the only noise reduction is to their tenants. We’re getting a four foot buffer, that’s it. Our conference room is right next to the dog run. I would expect us to get the same respect as the one house from the previous meeting they changed for. The one in Dartmouth has 25 feet of trees and does nothing. We’re getting four feet? That’s unacceptable. And my residence is next door. It’s a 24/7 operation. There’s no break from it. This is unacceptable.
Lovelace: If there was more mitigation, like a six foot fence, would you see that as acceptable? (Have you heard dogs bark? LOL)
Stallard: Nope. They have more than that in Burnside, and it does nothing.
Lovelace: Did you have an opportunity to see the initial proposal?
Stallard: No we didn’t get that notification in the mail.
Charlene Muldoon: I moved here in October and my backyard will be very close to this area, not as close as Stallard, but I still have concerns. I have concerns about dog feces, any research I’ve done says that rats are attracted to dog feces immediately (quick Google search comes back as decidedly inconclusive). They say they’ll clean it regularly, but the smell will be strong. I love dogs, own dogs. I was reading the comments from the previous meeting saying there are five dog daycares in the area. It’ll take away business from the businesses that have been in Hammonds Plains for a while.
Lovelace: When you purchased your home were you aware of the zoning in the area? Were you aware an indoor dog kennel is allowed currently by zoning? (I am extremely tapped into municipal politics and have never considered looking up adjacent zoning lol)
Muldoon: I’m renting, I don’t own. I didn’t know anything about this.
Lovelace: Would you be okay with a larger fence?
Muldoon: If it’s going to be approved anyway, then yes.
Duininck: We do appreciate the feedback and we’re trying to accommodate it. The fence, there is a plan for a six foot solid fence all around the property, and a berm. The feces, it’s a great question and concern. We have other building in this area, we don’t want rats either, so we’re going to be making sure there are no rats. The comment about noise and neighbours, and it’s not going to be an enjoyable place to live or work. These people want a successful business and we want happy tenants. If we have 20 dogs barking all day long, it’s in no one’s best interest.
*Public hearing closes*
Russell: Can we proceed past nine o’clock?
Nightingale: This is a mixed use zoning, for kennels we ask for the greatest mitigation possible, but there will neighbouring properties impacted.
Lovelace: *Reads the motion for agenda item 10.1.2 as written* With this particular application I’m impressed by the willingness of the applicant to listen to the community. The kennel, if it were indoors would require the dogs to be frequently taken on walks. I think this is a good area, good location for this dog run. I am concerned about the noise but I’m quite satisfied with the applicant’s willingness to run the business in a positive way. The veterinarian clinic is right across the parking lot.
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Unanimous
Russell: Next, Case 22980!
Jamy-Ellen Klenavic: I have a presentation, but also a summary. It’s an amendment. The applicant wants to permit one apartment building as planned but changing the other to townhouses. They want to decrease the minimum width from 20 to 16 feet and remove the requirement for each townhouse to have a driveway and garage.
Russell: Does anyone want the presentation?
Outhit: I’m happy to have a presentation next time we deal with this. But I’d like to talk to the developer and staff, I have some concerns about these amendments. Not concerns enough to prevent it from going to a public hearing though. *Reads motion for agenda item 13.1.3 as written*
Russell: How many other places have a 16 foot wide dwelling unit? How is that accommodated? Higher houses? Deeper into the lot?
Klenavic: We don’t have any information about that right now. It would be up to the developer. I assume they would be deeper, but I don’t know.
Russell: Parking is always an issue, how much will be available for the residents and how much for their guests?
Klenavic: The development agreement already has parking requirements. This applicant is proposing a separate lot adjacent to the lot.
Russell: When we are being asked to consider amendments when four of five of us weren’t on council, please provide the original documents. How much parking would there be?
Klenavic: I think it’s 1.5 per unit.
*Extremely long pause while it’s being looked up*
Langille: We can look this up for the public hearing when it comes up?
Russell: That works.
Lovelace: Having a designated guest parking area is really important if we’re moving to townhouses.
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Unanimous
Councillor Paul Russell, Chair (District 15)
Councillor Lisa Blackburn, Vice Chair (District 14)
Deputy Mayor Tim Outhit (District 16)
Councillor Kathy Deagle-Gammon (District 1)
Councillor Pam Lovelace (District 13)
N/A – COVID
Previous meeting minutes and current agenda:
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