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Council Hears Chamber Opposition to Bylaw

Halifax Regional Council received three succinct presentations on September 6, 2016 from opponents of HRM’s recent decision to start refusing to issue building permits for any lot without 100 feet of frontage on a public road. Karen Mitchell spoke on behalf of the Musquodoboit Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs (MHACCCA).

Council Hears Chamber Opposition

To Controversial Bylaw

Introduction:

Halifax Regional Council received three succinct presentations on September 6, 2016 from opponents of HRM’s recent decision to start refusing to issue building permits for any lot without 100 feet of frontage on a public road. (See “Opposition to Frontage Bylaw Growing Rapidly," Eastern Shore Cooperator, September, 2016).

This frontage bylaw has been on the books since 1996, but HRM officials had not been enforcing it until they suddenly began rejecting requests for building permits this spring, citing the previously unused bylaw. Eastern Shore residents quickly formed a group, Save Rural HRM, to protest the devastating economic impact of this sudden change in enforcement.

Save Rural HRM has asked for an emergency meeting of the Council to repeal or suspend the bylaw, but the Mayor denied this request. Instead the Council offered opponents two 5-minute time slots at the regularly scheduled September 6 meeting.

 Karen Mitchell, speaking on behalf of the Musquodoboit Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs (MHACCCA), delivered the following remarks:

 

 "MHACCCA Presentation to Council, September 6, 2016”

 Your Worship, Councillors, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this morning.

My name is Karen Mitchell and I am here representing the Musquodoboit Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs. Our mission statement reads: “To promote and enhance the economic, social and civic well-being of the Community.”

As a Chamber of Commerce, we are charged with the duty to advocate on behalf of residents and businesses. We engage with all levels of government to ensure our area is represented and our interests, clearly articulated.

We are a rural and proud Eastern Shore Community encompassing the area from Gaetz Brook to Ship Harbour. Since amalgamation with Halifax twenty years ago, rural communities on the Eastern Shore have changed and many aspects of an historic way of life, diminished. Amalgamation has brought with it urban-style regulations and development pressures that are having a profound, negative impact on rural lifestyles.

Rural communities in Nova Scotia face many challenges. Our aging populations and migration of youth to more urban centres contribute to decreasing prospects for employment, loss of core services, and limited opportunities for economic development. That said, people want to move to areas on the Eastern Shore for the rural setting and a simpler but unique quality of life. Encouraging new growth strategies through population and building on our local assets will strengthen the economy and enableus to prosper.

It comes therefore, as a considerable shock and set-back to learn of HRM’s recent ruling to stop issuing building permits on the 10+ hectare lots through the Municipal Act which do not have 100’ of public road frontage.

This recently ‘dusted-off’ regulation has suddenly created a huge and alienating ripple effect. It is economically devastating and imposes undue hardship on our communities and businesses. It restricts development and puts local developers, contractors, and their employees at enormous risk of job and opportunity losses.

  large number of 10+hectare lots have already been created for potentially new and incoming homeowners who have diligently continued to pay their residential taxes. With the investment of culverts, grading, septic and wells these lots await their building permits. Today, they are faced with nothing more than a small woodlot.

The ground swell of concern within the community has led to the formation of Save Rural HRM, an advocacy group consisting of landowners, developers, contractors, land surveyors, affected businesses, and concerned citizens.

The Chamber supports the efforts of Save Rural HRM and asks for the reissuance of building permits while this ruling is reconsidered and reviewed. We have met with our local Councillor, David Hendsbee and with officials from HRM and the province to ensure these concerns are heard and addressed.

As a Chamber of Commerce, we are willing to work closely with the Municipality, offering a unified voice for our rural stakeholders. While we are a component of Halifax, we are significantly different, geographically, demographically, and economically.

Municipal decisions that affect and impact us respectfully require consideration, understanding, balance, and consultation. Through mutual collaboration and trust, generating productive resolutions rather than adversarial reactions would be beneficial for all of us."

Thank you.

 

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