Category Archives: Presentations

250 signatures say “Freeze the Youden Development!”

On October 9th, Penny Carver made a presentation to Council on the current status of the online petition and recent door-to-door canvassing. Results show approximately 250 names of Town citizens and tax-payers who want a freeze on the Youden development (190 hard-copy signatures plus approximately 60 Town names online). The names represent a wide range of ages, location in town and length of residency and show impressive support for our request that Council seek other alternatives.

The results of the Friends of the Woods and Field petition differ significantly from the summary of a different survey given by the Town’s CAO at the September 27th council meeting. He stated then that, of 77 responses returned, 62 were in favour of the Youden development, 13 were not in favour, and two favoured the proposal with modification.

Here is text of Penny Carver’s October 9th presentation to Council..

October 9, 2007

Your Worship and Councillors:

Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you.

My name is Penny Carver. I live in Mahone Bay. I am here as one of many loosely associated people who call themselves “The Friends of the Mahone Bay Woods and Field.”

I want to discuss the petition which was organized by the Friends of the Woods and Field. The petition registers concerns about the Town’s plan to solve its financial troubles by selling 16 acres of green space – public land – so a private developer can build a large scale development of apartments, houses and new streets.

The petition’s main message – and I have brought copies for all of you tonight – is Wait! Slow down! The final paragraph says – and this was a key paragraph for many who signed the petition – “We call on you not to commit to this development (the Youden proposal) before all the people of the Town have had a chance to fully assess and debate its implications, both good and bad, and to consider alternatives.”

This petition has been on the internet since late Spring. To date there are 345 signatures online. These 345 people cared so much about the old school lands and about the future development of the Town of Mahone Bay that they spontaneously found their way to our website, read the petition, left their name and often added heartfelt and thoughtful comments.

It occurred to us that it was now time for our internet petition to be brought to earth with a paper version; that it was time to talk face to face with our neighbours about this development which has threatened to divide our town.

In the past week, 10 of us, all living in different parts of town, have taken the petition to the streets, talked with people and invited discussion. We have collected many signatures on paper petitions to supplement the electronic version online.

It has been a wonderful experience. We have engaged our neighbours in a significant and respectful dialogue about our town and about our dreams for its future. If nothing else, we have come to know our neighbours better and we are pleased about that. And, it was wonderful to meet so many young families, more than I would have believed possible given recent talk about their dwindling numbers.

We discovered that most of the people we talked with were happy to sign our petition. They expressed many doubts about whether the proposed development could address the Town’s needs and asked many questions. Who would buy/rent the units? Why such a big development? What about extra costs that would drive up taxes? Where are the jobs that would attract new residents? How will we find health professionals to serve an increased number of seniors? Will the affordable apartments require income testing? Will the seniors units impose minimum age limits? If so, by what authority? Why let a developer take the financial benefits? $90,000 is too low – why wasn’t there more than one appraisal? Why doesn’t the Town have a website? Why ruin Town assets for a project with a dubious outcome?

They want to save our green spaces and public land. They want to examine options for scaled-down and scattered development. They said this is the wrong development on the wrong land. They want the Town to slow down, think it over, do it right.

And what about the numbers? How many folks have signed our petition? It’s a little difficult to get an exact count. We have tried to eliminate any duplication of names but cannot claim to have caught them all. This is not an official poll. It does not claim to be accurate within a certain percentage. The value of our petition is as much qualitative as it is quantitative.

It isn’t just about numbers: it’s about acknowledging all the stakeholders in our community. Some signatures are from outside the Town. Should this discredit the petition? Absolutely not! These names represent the very people that the Town wants to attract to visit or live here to ensure economic sustainability – families living nearby in the county, and visitors from an hour or even a continent away. They contribute to the economic and social vitality of our town; their input is important; we must listen to their concerns.

Some of the names from outside of town represent non-resident tax payers who own property within town limits. Surely the voices of these tax payers count in this issue even though they are not eligible to vote in municipal elections.

The petition also has the names of a few younger citizens who care deeply about this civic issue. Are we to deny them a voice? They are the future of the town; they are the people the Town wants to hold here, to work here, to have their children here. They will not stay if they are not heard now.

But the vast majority of names that we bring you tonight are adult residents or tax-payers of the town.

It’s not just about the numbers: it’s about fair process. On their doorsteps, people told us they felt confused, they wanted more information and 3-dimensional models to help them visualize any proposed development, they felt decisions were being made too fast, that the large meetings had not answered their questions, that the lack of information and discussion has led to polarization and divisiveness in the town.

It’s not just about a number count of those for or against development; it’s about ensuring there is dialogue about how and where development takes place. At the doors, many people asked me right away, “Are you for or against the development?” As soon as I indicated that the petition is asking the Town to take more time to think and talk about it, the dialogue began. And let me tell you the conversations were respectful and lengthy – 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes! We learned that most townsfolk think development would be good for the Town but that development must take place within an overall vision and plan or vision and should be smaller in keeping with the character of the Town. Many people were surprised to learn about the town-owned land at the foot of Hawthorn Hill and felt that this would be a good site for seniors’ accommodations due to its ease of access to Main Street. They were intrigued also to learn that other options are available and want to learn more about them.

It’s not just about the numbers of people who have signed this petition; it’s about the red flag that their collective signatures represent. Think of them as canaries in the mine.

I want to quote from a letter written recently to the Town of Mahone Bay Council and which may be in your package tonight. The writer is trained in planning and environmental design; she has worked with many community and municipal groups; she lives nearby in the county and she cares about Mahone Bay. She says, “When I have seen valued public land sold amid substantial opposition, the wound doesn’t heal.” Further she states, “When there is the kind of substantial outcry to a plan as is currently happening, it is a red flag. The (red) flag in planning means slow down, slow way down, make sure you’re on the right track…get a second opinion…get a third…do research and get advice…reassess the reasons for going forward…(while ensuring that emotions and/or politics aren’t the underpinnings of refuting compromise, and refusing to consider alternatives).”

That being said, as of today, the approximate number of names of citizens and tax-payers within the Town of Mahone Bay who have signed either the online or paper petition, after accounting for duplications, is 252.

This is a significantly large number of people who are unhappy.

At least 252 people – we haven’t canvassed every home or found all our supporters – 252 citizens and tax-payers of this Town want Council to put a halt to this development. They are not against development per se; they want planned and careful development that does not destroy our assets.

This is a clear message for Council. The responsible thing to do is to put a freeze on the development, to slow down and do it right. If Mr. Youden really wants to be part of Mahone Bay, if his is an honourable offer, he will wait until we have a new council. Let the dialogue continue amongst citizens and tax-payers. Give them all the information. Let us hear from all the stakeholders. This must be an election issue in 2008.

Are there any questions? …

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight.

Respectfully submitted,
Penny Carver
Mahone Bay
October 9, 2007
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Let’s Build On Our Strengths: It’s The Only Game in Town!

by the Mahone Bay Youth Soccer Association

• The Mahone Bay Youth Soccer Association is registered and incorporated under the Societies Act. Its
registered address is in the Town of Mahone Bay. It is proud to be a Mahone Bay based organisation, and uses the Mahone Bay name for all its competitive teams, in the South Shore and Nova Scotia Provincial leagues.
• The Club has a duly elected Board and proper By-laws as required by the Societies Act.
• The Club is huge by Town and Town area standards. It’s the Town’s biggest youth and or recreational organisation. It’s bigger than CBL. It’s bigger than the Swimming Pool.
• In fact it’s the only game in Town: the club is the only organisation in town committed to training young people in a team sport, and fielding teams under the banner of Mahone Bay.
• There is no ball club. There is not even a ball team playing under the name Mahone Bay. There’s no Mahone Bay based hockey club…there’s no lacrosse. There a swimming pool and there’s a tennis club.
• WE SHOULD BE BUILDING ON THAT ONE STRENGTH…..NOT PUTTING IT AT RISK
• It has over 170 registered players, male and female, from the town and surrounding areas. In the Town itself over 50% of the 4 to 14 year olds [the age groups the club presently caters for] living in the Town play with the club.
• The club has programs for the following age groups: U-14, U-12, U-10, U-8, minis and preschoolers.
• The club has competitive teams as follows: U-14 boys, U-14 girls, U-12 boys, U-12 girls, U-10 coed-all playing in the Tier 2 South Shore District League. There is also an Under 14 boys Tier 1 team playing in the provincial league.
• By 2009 the club will have two U-16 teams, and by 2011 U-16 and U-18/Senior teams. It will have these teams just as surely as elementary school kids become junior high kids and junior high kids become senior high kids.

Fields
• The club is already using three fields
1: the Old School field: used for its U-14 tier1, U-12 boys, U-12 girls, U-10 coed games and practices.
2: the Bayview School field: used for the U-14 boys tier 2 and U-14 girls tier 2 games and practices.
When the Bayview school field is too wet, these games and practices are switched to the Old School
3: The ball field at Jubilee Park: used for U-8s and the younger groups.

• The Old School Field is the club’s best quality and most used field. It is one of the best soccer fields on the South Shore. It is the club’s flagship field.
The Soccer Club regards the Old School field as indispensable Town recreational infrastructure. It has been used for recreation for decades. It has had town and community money spent on developing it. The Soccer Club has spent thousands of dollars on it for annual aeration, lime, fertilizer, and sod.
• The Jubilee Park ball field is not a soccer field, and, with its fences, can only be used for mini soccer. It cannot be used for full field soccer.
• The Bayview Field is not a Town field or even a school board field. It is privately owned. Bayview is a P3 school, privately built. The soccer field is mediocre, was poorly built [on a swamp] and has serious drainage problems. The soccer club has negotiated to use it for its two U-14 tier 2 teams on condition we don’t use it when it gets wet. At any time, the owners can deny the Soccer Club use of the facility.

The “go and use Bayview” fix has no credibility: it ignores the actual facts.

The Minimum Requirement for The Mahone Bay Soccer Club to function is two full sized fields available on a daily basis.

That’s why the present Town Council Proposed Development would be a disaster for the Soccer Club.

If the Old School Field is lost, the Soccer Club could not continue its present programs, let alone cater for its future teams.

The developer, Mr. Youden, has no plans to replace the field his development would take away, and The Town Council has provided no replacement in the development plans it has approved in principle.

Build on Strengths Mahone Bay a Centre for Recreation

The Soccer Club has been a Mahone Bay success story. Not only does it provide for recreation and fitness for young people in the Town, but it brings adults and young people from outside. The Tier 1 team brings soccer opponents-their players and parents-from all over the province. The tier 2 teams bring in soccer opponents-their players and parents- from all over the South Shore. It’s soccer’s Wooden Boat Festival.
It’s a Mahone Bay Institution — 4 home games per week —all youth age groups — two/teams per game= min. 30 players — say 35 brothers/sisters/parents/grandparents etc — that’s 140 visits per week times 15 wks= 2100 person visits to Mahone Bay for soccer games, not counting practices

LET’S BUILD ON OUR STRENGTHS

The Mahone Bay soccer club plans to offer programs from pre-schoolers to men and women-recreational and competitive.

A development proposal for the town should not cut back on an existing recreational facility that is essential to existing programs. The Old School field is essential to the Town’s soccer club, and no credible, realistic and imminent alternative has been offered or planned.

Alternatives

Later on in this meeting, the Soccer Club will be asking for two realistic alternatives to be acted on by Town Council.

The Soccer Club has come to this public meeting in good faith. The Town Council has asked for input on alternatives. The test for council is if they will deal with the alternatives with an impartial, open mind.

Submitted by Bob Sayer on behalf of the Mahone Bay Soccer Association July 2007
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Developing an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan

DISCUSSION PAPER ON DEVELOPING AN INTEGRATED COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY PLAN FOR MAHONE BAY

by Veryan Haysom

BACKGROUND

Municipalities which receive federal gas tax transfers from the Province under the Canada Nova Scotia Agreement on the Transfer of Federal Gas Tax Revenues are required to prepare an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan.

An Integrated Community Sustainability Plan is defined as a long-term plan, developed in consultation with community members, that provides direction for the community to realize sustainability objectives for the environmental, cultural, social and economic dimensions of its identity. Integrated Sustainability Plans must also be reasonably consistent with statements of provincial interest under the Municipal Government Act.

Nova Scotia’s principles of sustainability are set out in the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. They include the principles that the environment and the economy of the Province are a shared responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector and all people of the Province.

DEVELOPMENT OF AN INTEGRATED COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY PLAN

Mahone Bay should immediately begin to create a Community Sustainability Plan. All development in the Town should be consistent with the Town’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan.

To assist the Town and meet the requirement for citizen participation in the planning process, an ad hoc Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Sustainability should be established to recommend an interim Integrated Community Sustainability Plan to the Town Council. Until a final Plan is in place, all developments in the Town should be referred to the Committee for its advice with respect to the sustainability of the proposal.

The Committee should establish working groups on topics that would include the environment, culture, social justice and the economy. The working groups should be given a mandate to conduct their business at informal “kitchen table” meetings throughout the Town and report back to the Committee as a whole.

The terms of reference for the Committee should (1) be worked out by the Council in consultation with the Committee; (2) establish a reasonable time frame to report; (3) identify the support and resources available to the Committee; and (4) take account of the following:
• existing planning and financial frameworks of the Town as well as its other plans and programmes;
• the systematic identification of problems and their causes;
• the prioritization of tasks to address identified problems;
• the consideration and assessment of alternative strategic options;
creation of a vision for a sustainable community;
• establishment of a long-term action plan towards community sustainability which includes measurable targets; the programming of the implementation of the plan including a timetable and statement of allocations of responsibilities; and procedures for monitoring implementation of the plan.

The town’s procedures for finalizing the Plan after receiving the Committee’s report must be transparent, accessible to the public, and mandated by law in order to meet the test for legitimacy set out by the Supreme Court of Canada (City of London v. RSJ Holdings). []

Proposed by Veryan Haysom

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Honestly Seeking Alternatives: Village Status – Amalgamation; by Bob Sayer

Need for Change
• Nobody seriously doubts the Town is in a serious financial viability crisis.
• Nobody doubts the Town is struggling to meet the present and future commitments to services required by town status.
• Nobody doubts that provincial and national requirements for public works
will get more sophisticated and expensive.
• Most people see the need for development.

But before the town is launched on a plan of action-and the present plan is drastic, involving the loss of the most used recreational facility, and wooded land- the critical question has to be answered.

Is Mahone Bay a village masquerading as a corporate town? Is it far better off amalgamating with a municipality, and becoming part of a much larger tax base?
Would amalgamation result in considerable savings and debt reduction?

The only way to find the answer is to appoint an impartial committee into the possible benefits of amalgamation. A decade ago the Town of Liverpool and Queen’s Municipality appointed a two person committee to study and report back.

A Real Life South Shore Example
The Town of Liverpool amalgamated with Queen’s in 1996 and the following facts
are available from the senior administrator, David Clattenburg:
• A majority of Liverpool Town Councillors were initially against amalgamation. They just didn’t like the idea. They changed their mind when presented with the facts from the impartial report.
• Real considerable cost savings resulted.
• The residential and commercial tax rate in Liverpool is actually lower now than it was in 1996.
• The garbage collection fee of $ 155 for each commercial and residential establishment has been scrapped. The area special commercial rate for business development has been scrapped.
• Services by public works and policing have improved.

• Helped by amalgamation, Liverpool has been able to reduce its debt on the town water utility from approximately $470,000 to nothing. And now a new $6.75 new water project is about to start

These are facts and I could quote many more. Most of the facts were given under testimony at Antigonish hearings in 2004.

Mahone Bay is not Liverpool. Nobody [and that includes our town councillors] knows the results of an impartial survey.
No impartial survey has been done. There are only opinions.

Let’s not tear out the physical heart of this Town, and split the community, before a real study of this alternative is done.
What if this proposed development goes ahead and it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem ?
What if the proposal is just a band aid?

It’s easy: a phone call to Stephen Fiest [424-5537] the Municipal Advisor at Service Nova Scotia initiates the process. Get Mr. Clattenburg to come and talk to Council. There are many respected local persons with administrative/financial expertise who would have people’s respect as impartial investigators.

Respectfully submitted

Bob Sayer

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Correcting errors and misinformation in handout

by Keith Macdonald

Thank-you Council
cleaned up harbour: formerly raw sewage in harbour
cleaning up the water: health risk being eliminated
heavy financial pressures: responded to meet these challenges
Helped define Mahone Bay as a clean, eco-friendly town

Five Issues:
• shifting demographics: depopulation
• financial pressures
• residential strategy: housing prices, seniors needs
• commercial strategy
• “branding”: What type of town should we be?

Correcting errors and misinformation presented in handout as “Facts”
some alarmist statements creating climate of fear
1) from “fact sheet”: “in the past 11yrs we have reduced our population by 27.5%”
Stats Canada data for Mahone Bay shows
1996 1,017
2006 904
decline of 113 which is 11.1%, not 27.5%
source: http://www.gov.ns.ca/finance/statistics/agency/publications/Cen2006.pdf
This must be seen in a regional context: of 31 towns in NS, 26 are in decline
This is not a problem just for Mahone Bay but a regional problem
2) from “fact sheet”:
“highest per capita residential tax assessment in Lunenburg County”
tax assessments not based on population
to say my per capita assessment has doubled since the children left home is meaningless
3) from “fact sheet”: “We are 29th of 31 towns in average cost of housing”
MB has many expensive homes and waterfront property which boost the average
high prices in that sector doesn’t affect ordinary property owners
many homes in MB assessed at under $120,000

Financial solutions to consider (  indicates currently being done by Council)

 cost sharing on infrastructure: Federal and Provincial programs
• long term financing: gradual infrastructure recapitalization
• maximize tax revenue: review current assessments
• by-law revenue: authorize town employees to issue tickets
• increase utility revenue from seasonal residents: higher base rates
• sell field and woodlands to a trust for fair market value
• raise residential tax rates: bitter medicine
 with tax relief for fixed income homeowners
• consider village status

Most other towns in Nova Scotia have had to raise tax rates to meet financial pressures
Higher rates can be combined with tax relief for fixed income and low income home owners

With such financial pressures, why is Council continuing to cut tax rates?
We DON’T pay high taxes in Mahone Bay, we have some of the lowest taxes in NS

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Envisioning a Sustainable Future; the example of Craik, Sask.

by Camelia Frieberg
An ever-growing number of towns in Canada have chosen to revitalize their communities with sustainability as the key guiding principle. The example explored below is from a small town in Saskatchewan named Craik. It shares a number of similarities to Mahone Bay and also some differences, but as a model of a rural town, one hour from Saskatoon that had a desire and need to revitalize itself, the example can be very instructive.

In the 1970’s a new highway by-passed the town and the big box stores that moved out to the highway contributed to the eventual loss of numerous retail stores and services in town. By 2001 the population had dwindled to just over 400 people, the local school was also having a difficult time filling classrooms.

In 2001 the town began working in partnership with other nearby towns and the rural municipality on a long-term plan for a sustainable community based project starting with a socio-economic profile/survey. Speakers were brought in to meet and discuss various topics. Amongst them was a retired professor whose idea of creating an “eco-village” was pitched first to this group and then to the town council. They decided to start with a demonstration building that could serve as a model of cutting edge green technologies and offer a place to hold workshops, seminars and other community activities. The Craik Sustainable Living Project is involved in 4 phases of this project:
1) Eco-Village: lots available for a nominal price to those who put forth proposals for homes that utilize green techniques
2) Eco-Centre: large multi-purpose building that is both demonstration site and community building with restaurant and rental space
3) Outreach and Education: curriculum for grades school, library on sustainable topics and climate change, Solar Fairs and trade shows based on sustainable living and green technologies
4) Community Action: competitions between local towns to meet the One Tonne Challenge, waste management alternatives, etc.

Over the last five years the town has managed to turn themselves around in very significant ways. They have welcomed 47 new families over the last year and a half! They have hosted fairs and trade shows and brought hundreds of people to their community to learn from their example. They have attracted a large-scale business that will build a factory for processing hemp and natural fibres using green technologies and thereby create dozens of new jobs. They have a chemical-free nine-hole golf course that attracts many players. They have received national and international coverage as a leading example of how a small community can thrive and benefit from the choices they have made together in envisioning their future.

For more information on Craik: http://www.craikecovillage.ca/

FUNDING: Some sources of funding used by Craik and available for communities looking to build a sustainable future:

Green Municipal Fund: grants and low cost loans available for capital projects and sustainable community development needs. http://sustainablecommunities.fcm.ca/GMF/

EcoAction: funding for up to 50% of costs for projects that take positive action at community level. http://www.ec.gc.ca/ecoaction/what_is_e.html

paper prepared by Camelia Frieberg. Printer-friendly PDF

Establishing a Mahone Bay Housing Development Corporation

DISCUSSION PAPER ON ESTABLISHING A MAHONE BAY HOUSING DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

by Veryan Haysom

ASSUMPTIONS:

  1. Mahone Bay requires special-needs housing for elders, as well as affordable housing to encourage young families to live in Mahone Bay.
  2. The Town of Mahone Bay has publicly owned land that could be used for housing.
  3. The Town of Mahone Bay wants to maximize its revenues from housing developments in the town.
  4. Publicly owned assets are to be publicly developed for the benefit of the whole town.

One approach to address housing needs and maximize revenues to the Town of Mahone Bay

A. Incorporate a for-profit Mahone Bay Housing Development Corporation.
The mandate of the Corporation would be to:
1. buy land in the Town of Mahone Bay, whether publicly or privately owned;
2. buy and renovate existing buildings in town; and
3. develop, own and operate apartment buildings, condominiums and housing units in Mahone Bay to:
a) supply housing for elders who are residents of the town and have special needs;
b) create a supply of affordable housing in Mahone Bay to encourage young families to locate in the town; and
c) increase housing stock in the town.

The Town of Mahone Bay would own the Corporation and would hold all the voting shares.

If it gets at least 90% of its income from operations in the town, the Corporation’s income would not be taxable under the Income Tax Act (Section 149).

B. Transfer ownership of the 2.9-acre Town-owned lot on Kinburn Street (at the northern corner of Kinburn and Hawthorn Streets) to the Corporation.

The Corporation could seek development financing from other lenders but the Town would hold a second mortgage, at a commercial rate of interest,
for the market value of the property in exchange for the land transfer. The Corporation would then have a valuable asset ($350,000 assessed value) with which to launch its business.

C. The Corporation would pay Town property and commercial taxes and be treated as any other private developer of privately owned land in the town.

This would provide the Town with tax revenues for the assessed value of the land, change-of-use taxes and commercial taxes.

D. The Corporation would be free to develop the land and any other property it buys on the basis of described needs of town elders and the demands of the housing market, in accordance with its mandate.

Housing currently occupied by town elders who move into the Corporation’s facilities would then become available on the Mahone Bay housing market.

The Corporation could make money from:

1. rent and potential capital appreciation if properties are leased; or
2. proceeds from unit sales, subdivision or converting its property to condominiums; or
3. both.

As previously noted, the Corporation’s revenue would not be subject to payment of income taxes.

Net income from operations would be available for re-investment in the development of Mahone Bay housing or for payment to the Town as dividends.

Note: This short paper cannot fully address the financing of the development of housing by the Corporation. Financing options might include: federal or provincial program funding, bank financing with federal or provincial guarantees or even public/private infrastructure funding (e.g., pension funds or other capital pools seeking long-term, stable rental streams) with capital appreciation. Another option would be a joint venture with a private developer with project development expertise. â–¡

Concept proposed by Veryan Haysom

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How development should be adding to our resources, not trading off one for another

By Alleson Kase

I believe that successful community development builds on existing community resources, including the participation of community residents. It adds to what is already present in the community, while respecting the concerns of its members, rather than trading one resource for another.

GOALS

1. Preservation of existing resources of Mahone Bay

 Preserve current recreational resources
 The soccer field at the Old School
 Walking trails
 Under this and every other point, please add the many concerns that I’ve left out
 Preserve natural environments
 Woodland plants and animals
 Watershed
 Preserve character and ambience of Mahone Bay
 ‘Village’ feel/look/sound of residential neighbourhoods and commercial streets
 Blend of diverse residential architectural styles representing 150 years of local craftsmanship

2. Increase long-term sustainability of Mahone Bay

 Increase the Town’s revenue to meet expense of necessary maintenance and improvements
 Increase town’s tax base
 Increase number of residents and/or residential units
 Preserve and/or increase desirability of the town as a location for businesses
 Increase quantity of good quality and accessible housing for an aging population as well as new residents
 Avoid down-loading external costs of development onto current tax payers
 Increase diversity of population
 Increase total number of year-round residents (by 25 – 30%?)
 Broaden demographics (age, income, etc.)
 Increase viability of local businesses
 Larger customer base
 Larger pool of potential employees
 Attract new businesses with growth potential

POPULATION TRENDS and CONCERNS

A discussion of development plans for Mahone Bay would also benefit from an awareness of current real estate and population trends. A recent study by Scotia Economics predicts a gradual cooling of Canada’s real estate market; those sales that do occur will likely be limited to specific sectors and populations.

 Nationally, the age group most likely to buy a home in any given year — those aged 25-44 years — will grow by only 2% in Canada in the next decade.
 Growth in the younger portion of that group — those 25-34 — will support moderate demand for entry-level homes and condos in urban centres close to employment opportunities.
 The numbers of the older portion of that group — those aged 35-44 — are expected to decline in the same period, cooling off the already under-performing market for suburban homes.
 During this same period, most population ‘growth’ by age group will be amongst older Canadians (i.e., the post-WWII baby-boomers who are approaching retirement age).
 The number of Canadians aged 45-64 is projected to rise by 15%; the number over 65 will jump by an extraordinary 65%!
 These Canadians will likely create what demand growth there is in residential real estate with purchases that “move-up” (in quality) and “down-size” (in square footage). This trend will favour condos, vacation homes and urban areas with greater services.
 Immigration will account for two-thirds of Canada’s population growth in the coming decade, and perhaps Canada’s only source of population growth by 2030.
 While historically lower wage rates translate to lower rates of homeownership among new Canadians, immigrant families who do buy homes are more likely to buy in major cities.

The above points predict a very sluggish market for entry-level homes located in small towns and suburbs for the next several decades — the very types that are proposed in Bob Youden’s concept.

HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD?

A mutually agreeable solution would need to address all of the above. We can…

 tap into the creativity of residents to help arrive at a variety of solutions, which will also better reflect the current diversity of lot sizes, housing styles, market values, etc.;
 develop a substantial number of new residential units designed for the most likely market;
 spread units over several locations (for example,
4 sites that total 16 acres rather than a single 16 acre site);
 preserve current resources while developing new ones;
 focus future development on lands that would benefit from renewal (i.e., old pastureland, recent clear-cuts, flood-damaged lots, old derelict houses, etc.);
 position seniors’ units in areas that provide safe and easy access (flat terrain within walking distance of amenities);
explore creative financing ideas

FOOTNOTES

1. – I haven’t used the term “affordable” because Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) states
“To be considered affordable, a homeowner project must have unit sale prices which are below the average price for similar units in the market.”
I don’t consider that the concept presented by Bob Youden meets CMHC’s definition.
2. – http://novascotiabusinessjournal.com

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Alleson Kase, 51 Main Street, Mahone Bay, 624-0427