97 Questions about the Youden Proposal

Open Questions for the Mahone Bay Town Council about the Youden Development Proposal for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands

In his July 18, 2007, letter to our community the Mayor reported that the Council of the Town of Mahone Bay is committed to reviewing the many questions that have been raised about Mr Youden’s development proposal for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands. We are pleased to see the Council engaged in that process. We would like to contribute to their deliberations by offering a list of questions gleaned from many residents who have expressed concerns to us about this development proposal and the Council’s decision to support it in principle.

In providing these questions, we continue to believe that the Old Mahone Bay School Lands should be preserved as public lands for recreational use and for their ecological value. We also believe the Town should not be using public resources to advance a flawed development proposal.

We believe this is a basic list of the questions that need answers. They are serious questions. We know Council is already addressing a number of them. We understand some are complex questions and it will require expertise and time to answer them. We ask, however, that the Town Council respond to the questions and make the answers available to the public before Council makes any further decisions.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of friends of the Mahone Bay woods and field, July 23, 2007, by the following residents of Mahone Bay

Veryan Haysom, Fairmont Street, Stephanie Macleod, Fairmont Street,
Valerie Hearder, Fairmont Street, Bob Sayer, Pleasant Street,
Deborah Hickman, Stove Pipe Lane, Ellen Agger, Main Street,
Keith Macdonald, Fairmont Street, Tim Worthington, Fairmont Street,
Sue Bookchin, Kinburn Street, Penny Carver, Spruce Street,
Chris Heide, Stove Pipe Lane.

Open Questions for the Mahone Bay Town Council about the Youden Development Proposal for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands

Planning and Procedures

1. The Old Mahone Bay School Lands are presently owned by the Town and are currently used by residents of the Town, the general public, the Mahone Bay Youth Soccer Association, the Youth Stewardship Centre, the summer theatre program and other programs run out of the Mahone Bay Centre.
(a) On what basis has the Town decided that the Old Mahone Bay School Lands are no longer needed for Town purposes?
(b) What studies were done by town staff or consultants to demonstrate that the lands are no longer needed?
(c) When and under what circumstances was that decision made by Council?

2. The Town decided to offer the Old Mahone Bay School Lands to developers for $90,000.00. This represents approximately 52% of the assessed value of the land assembly. Has the Town Council established a policy to use Town owned lands to depress property values in the Town?

3. What process or procedures will the Town Council follow before it conveys the Old Mahone Bay School Lands?

4. Does the Town intend to transfer the Old Mahone Bay School Lands to MADE for Mahone Bay or to Mr. Youden?

5. The Town called for proposals for the development of the Old Mahone Bay School Lands in February, 2007, after being approached by Mr. Youden.
(a) Who prepared the call for proposals?
(b) Who prepared the development concept?

6. The Town received two proposals in response to the call.
(a) Who submitted the second proposal?
(b) What did the second proposal contain?
(c) Was the proposal that was approved in principle by the Council the same as the proposal that was announced to the media on May 17 or were changes made to it before it was announced?

7. The Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands was announced to the media on May 17, 2007. On May 1, 2007, the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) requested the Town’s Planner to prepare a density study in light of the Youden Development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands and in the context of the Committee’s review and preparation of a new Planning Strategy for the Town.
(a) What information about the Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands was available to the Committee on May 1, 2007?
(b) Why was that information not announced to the public before May 1, 2007?

8. On what date, and at what meeting, did the Town decide to approve the Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands?

9. Why is the decision to approve the Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands not reflected in the minutes of meetings of the Town Council?

10. What studies and reports (other than the density study prepared by the Town Planner for the PAC) were requested or prepared by the Town or any of its departments, commissions or committees in relation to the Youden development proposal for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands before the Council made its decision to approve the proposal in principle?

11. The Town of Mahone Bay planning documents (Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law) are out-dated and while they have been amended since the new Municipal Government Act come into effect in 1998, they have not been revised so as to account for the repeal of the Planning Act and the provisions of the Municipal Government Act. Such a review is currently under way. Does the Town intend to make decisions about the Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands before the revised planning documents are in effect?

12. The Town’s planning documents were amended to reflect the decision to sub-divide the Old Mahone Bay School Lands and transfer the old Mahone Bay School building to the Mahone Bay Centre Society. They were not amended to reflect the fact that a recreational playing field exists on the remainder lot.
(a) Why were the planning documents not amended to reflect the fact that a recreational playing field exists on the remainder lot?
(b) Will this situation be corrected?

13. The Town’s planning documents do not deal with affordable and special-needs housing. The Statement of Provincial Interest Regarding Housing in the Municipal Government Act says that planning documents must include housing policies which address affordable housing, special-needs housing and rental accommodation.
(a) Has the Town established definitions of what is meant by these terms for purposes of Town planning?
(b) If not, how and where did the Town establish its definitions of affordable housing and special needs housing for purposes of the February call for proposals and the Council’s review of the proposals that were received in response to the call?

14. The Town of Mahone Bay is required to prepare a Community Integrated Sustainability Plan. Does the Town intend to proceed with the Youden development proposal for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands before the Community Integrated Sustainability Plan is in effect?

15. The 20/20 Vision exercise called for the development of the Town’s green lands by putting in recreational trails and recreational facilities. Why is the Town council not following the specific vision put forward for these particular lands?


16. The Youden development concept calls for the construction over a period of 5-7 years of 103 residential units that are not specifically designated as being for seniors. These are understood to be targeted for young families.
(a) What is the current demand by young families who want to come to Mahone Bay for housing in the $150,000 range?
(b) What is the current demand by non-seniors and young families for apartments in Mahone Bay?
(c) What independent (other than the Developer’s) studies have been done to show the nature, extent and location of this demand?
(d) Has the Town Council maintained statistics on the number of residential units of various types that become available in Mahone Bay from month to month and how quickly they change hands in order to gauge the need for new residential units in Town?

17. A small number of young families have recently moved to Mahone Bay.

(a) What studies have been done to find out what it is that drew them to Mahone Bay?
(b) What was it that made them decide to purchase property in Town?
(c) How are these factors accounted for in the Youden concept for the development of the Old Mahone Bay School Lands?

18. There are new housing developments in Bridgewater, Lunenburg and Oakland.
(a) What is the regional demand for affordable housing?
(b) How will the increased regional supply of housing impact on the price, availability and desirability of housing in Mahone Bay?

19. Recent studies show that youth are leaving rural Nova Scotia for employment in provincial growth centres such as HRM or national growth centres such as Alberta and the lower mainland of BC.
(a) On what basis has the Town determined that there is a demand for 36 apartments for the general population, 38 duplex homes and 29 single family homes?
(b) What is there to draw and keep 103 young families in Town?

20. Demographic information published by Statistics Canada shows Nova Scotia with a disproportionately large aging population, and a report by Scotia Economics predicts seniors of 65 and over will provide the demand growth in residential real estate and that they will look for housing that represents a “move-up” in quality and a “down-size” in square footage.
(a) How does the Youden development concept avoid the market trend identified by Scotia Economics and capture the younger housing market?
(b) How will the Youden development concept be able to ensure that these 103 residential units are reserved for young families and will not be filled by seniors?

21. The Youden development concept calls for the construction of 30 assisted living apartments for seniors.
(a) What is the current demand for seniors assisted living units within the Town of Mahone Bay?
(b) How will the current demand be affected by the construction of seniors’ assisted-living units in Bridgewater and possibly in the Lunenburg area too?
(c) What independent studies (other than the Developer’s) have been done to show the nature, extent and location of this demand?
(c) Have the organizations in Town that are involved in meeting the needs of seniors, such as the Interfaith Committee, been consulted?

22. The Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands will see the construction of 96 one and two bedroom seniors’ apartments in addition to the 30 assisted living seniors’ apartments. This envisions the addition of between 126 – 180 elderly people to the population of the Town.
(a) How does this address the Town’s concern about the aging Town population and the decreasing number of young families and children in the Town?
(b) Was a needs assessment done in order to establish the scope of this aspect of the development?
(c) What other local organizations have been consulted as to their plans and/or recommendations for seniors’ housing

23. Where will these seniors come from?
(a) If these seniors currently live in Mahone Bay, what will be the impact on the local housing market when they vacate approximately 100 living units?
(b) If they are currently living in the surrounding communities, what impact will the new vacancies in the surrounding area have on the housing market in Mahone Bay?

24. What consultations have been carried out with the South Shore Regional Health Board about the supply of services that will be required by this demographic?

25. Is there an adequate number of properly qualified workers (in the area or the province) to service the needs of seniors?

26. Seniors, like all of us, prize their independence and freedom of movement. However, they are more dependent than the general population on safe and easy access to streets, buildings and sidewalks.
(a) What plans exist to ensure safe pedestrian, walker and wheelchair access between the downtown area and the proposed development?
(b) What costs will the Town incur in this regard?

27. Accommodating seniors involves a series of steps or stages starting with independent living, moving next to assisted living, and then to nursing homes. It also implies the ability to meet needs through facilities specifically for people with Alzheimer’s and in need of geriatric care. The Youden development proposal does not address any needs beyond the need for assisted living.
(a) What plans or studies have been done to assess needs for nursing home facilities and for specialized services such as geriatrics?
(b) What plans are there to meet these needs?
(c) Will there be costs to the Town?


28. Current water supply in Town has a low pressure. Residences on the Fairmont Street hill suffer not only loss of pressure but loss of water when hydrants are opened on Main Street. There was not sufficient pressure in the Town water system to feed the Hawthorn Hill development.
(a) Have water supply and water pressure studies been done with respect to the supply of water to an additional 230 residential units?
(b) How will adequate pressure be maintained for the additional 230 residential units?
(c) What effect will the Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School lands have on water supply and water pressure issues in the remainder of Town?
(d) How will water pressure be maintained for those on the top of Fairmont Hill, to houses uphill on Main Street and other high points on the far side of the Old Mahone Bay School Lands?

29. If additional pumping capacity is to be installed:
(a) Where will it be located?
(b) What will it cost?
(c) Who will pay the costs?

30. What additional, off-site, water supply and water pressure costs will be incurred by the Town?

31. What ongoing on-site operational and maintenance costs will be incurred by the Town with respect to water services for the Youden development concept once all phases are constructed?

32. A number of residential areas of the Town are not currently served by the Town’s water supply. What impact will the Youden development concept have on the extension of Town water services to current taxpayers of the Town who are without water utilities?

33. One of the current water quality issues experienced with respect to the Town water supply is that the water lines end in a series of dead ends without through flow. This results in sedimentation and other problems. The Youden development concept for the Old School Lands calls for the construction of 3 new dead end streets.
(a) Will the water mains also be dead-ended?
(b) What off-site costs will the Town incur in order to avoid dead-end water mains?


34. The Youden development concept will place significant additional demands on the Town sewage system. A number of the existing sewer lines in Town are old. Sewer service is not currently supplied to all residential areas of the Town.
(a) Do the existing sewer lines have the strength and capacity to service sewage from 229 additional residential units?
(b) Will additional pumping capacity be required?
(c) If so, where will it be located?
(d) How much will it cost?
(e) Who will pay?
(f) What are the ongoing on-site maintenance and operations costs to the Town?

35. What impact will the additional 229 residential units have on off-site sewage system operation and maintenance costs?

36. What impact will the Youden development concept have on the extension of Town sewer services to current taxpayers of the Town who are without this Town service?

37. Storm sewers in the downtown core overflow during heavy rainfalls.
(a) What studies have been done to evaluate the quantity of additional storm water run-off that will be generated by the Youden development concept?
(b) What existing storm sewers will receive the additional storm run-off?
(c) Do the existing storm sewers have the capacity to service the Youden development concept?

38. What additional development and ongoing off-site operation and maintenance costs will be incurred by the Town with respect to off-site storm sewers as a result of the Youden development concept?

39. What additional costs will the Town incur with respect to the on-site operation and maintenance of storm sewers?

Roads and Traffic

40. Fairmont Street from the intersection with Pine Grove is a cul de sac no wider than 21 feet and is as narrow as 12 feet at its steepest parts on the crest of the Fairmont Street hill. The Youden development concept calls for this section of Fairmont Street to service a new dead-end street that will be at least 50 feet wide.
(a) Is this possible without widening Fairmont Street?
(b) What traffic flow and engineering studies, opinions and advice have been obtained in relation to this concept?
(c) What road works will be required to enable Fairmont Street to service the proposed new road in the Youden development concept?
(d) What will the road works cost
(e) Who will pay the road work costs?

41. If Fairmont Street is to be widened:
(a) Are expropriations planned?
(b) What will expropriations cost?
(c) How will the Town pay for expropriation costs?

42. School Street, also a cul de sac, would also service 2 new 50 foot wide dead-end roads. It is also a narrow street. The distance between the property at 57 School Street and the NSP power transformer is approximately 20 feet. School Street ends in a very steep embankment.
(a) What road works would have to be constructed at the end of School Street in order to access 2 new 50 foot wide roadways of the Youden development concept?
(b) What will these road works cost?
(c) Who will pay these road work costs?

43. Would the NSP transformer facility have to be relocated?
(a) If so, where to?
(b) Who would pay the costs of relocation?

44. Would property on School Street have to be expropriated to make access to the Youden development concept viable?
(a) If so, at what cost?
(b) Who would pay the expropriation costs?

45. The Youden concept calls for 230 new living units to be serviced by Fairmont and School Streets.
(a) Has the Town done any traffic volume and traffic flow studies to assess the implications of these new living units for traffic volumes and flows in the Town?
(b) What is the estimate for the number of additional vehicles that will be housed in this new neighbourhood and those that will be visiting it on a regular basis?
(c) What are the parking requirements for the 132 apartments and 30 assisted living units and where will the parking be located?
(d) What are the predicted impacts of the additional traffic?
(e) What are the predicted impacts on parking in Town off site?

46. What are the predicted impacts of having to clear snow from the proposed development on the ability of the Town to clear its streets following a major snow fall?
(a) Will there be longer wait times for all roads to be cleared?
(b) Will additional road clearing equipment be needed?
(c) If so, how will it be procured?
(d) What are the estimates for new and additional road clearing and maintenance costs?

47. The Youden development concept calls for 5-7 years of construction activity.
(a) Do the existing streets serving Fairmont and School Streets have the capacity to carry the heavy construction equipment and vehicular traffic associated with the Youden development concept?
(b) Are School and Fairmont streets wide enough to accommodate the turning radius of large construction vehicles?
(c) What impact will this weight and volume of traffic have on the streets of Mahone Bay?

48. What additional off-site costs will be incurred for street maintenance and repair as a result of the construction activities?

49. What arrangements are planned to avoid or minimize the impacts of this type and duration of construction on the affected streets and neighbourhoods?

50. Large and heavy vehicles used in the construction industry have to make wide turns. The intersection of Fairmont Street and Pleasant Street intersection is narrow and at times it is necessary to back up to permit a large vehicle to make a turn at this intersection.
(a) Will expropriations be necessary on this corner for purposes of street widening?
(b) Are there similar implications for other intersections that service the old school lands?

51. There are times when it is difficult to make a safe left turn onto Main Street at the bottom of Pleasant Street because of pedestrians in both cross walks, through traffic on Main Street, and traffic entering and exiting the Save Easy Parking lot.
(a) Will the additional traffic using this intersection require the installation of traffic lights?
(b) Will traffic lights be required at other intersections?

Sport and Recreational Values of the Old Mahone Bay School Lands

52. Soccer is the fastest growing sport in North America and the most popular sport in the world. The Soccer field on the Old Mahone Bay School Lands serves a vibrant youth soccer club with over 170 active players, 40 of them from the Town of Mahone Bay. The playing field that is part of the Old Mahone Bay School Lands supports soccer as one of the few growth ‘industries’ of the Town. Why destroy the playing field?

53. What equally well-developed and well serviced facilities exist to support the soccer club on publicly owned land elsewhere in Town?

54. What will it cost the Town to build a replacement field of equal size and quality using public land?

55. What will it cost to acquire an equivalent piece of land if no public land is available?

56. What additional commercial activity is added to the town as a spin-off from the use of the soccer field?

57. What effect will destruction of the soccer field have on the Town’s credibility in relation to programs, funding and support from the Office of Health Promotion and the other Municipal Governments in the region?

58. What impact will the reduction of Town sporting facilities have on the ability of the Town to attract and retain young families?

59. The playing field is used by more people than soccer players. It is also used by tenants of the Mahone Bay Centre such as the South Shore Alternative School as well as by the theatre and other programs based in the Centre. In addition it serves as a village green. How will the Town meet the cultural, educational, recreational and social needs of its residents that are currently being met by the field if the field is destroyed?

60. The woods to the southwest of the playing field are used for recreational purposes and by the Youth Stewardship Centre, which is based in the Mahone Bay Centre, for educational purposes. These woods comprise some 40% of the Town-owned green space and Town-owned recreational use land. They are crossed by a number of old and well used trails and paths. The woods and walking trails contribute to the rural environment and high quality of life that the Town’s citizens prize so highly. Does the Town have an assessment of the economic value of the non-market social and environmental assets represented by this land?

61. Does the Town intend to preserve the existing trails and traditional pathways?


62. The Old Mahone Bay School Lands fall quite steeply to the northwest and also run across a small valley that contains marshes and carries the streams that feed the duck pond in Jubilee Park. There are significant stands of old timber along the south eastern boundary and throughout the south western third of the property.
(a) What assessment has been made by the Town of the environmental services being performed for the community by these assets?
(b) What assessment has been made of the environmental impacts that are going to be experienced as a result of the Youden development concept?
(c) Given that these lands provide carbon storage, and that the development will increase the Town’s carbon footprint, are there any plans to off-set these impacts?

63. On what basis has the Town decided it is acceptable to eliminate or bury part of the watercourse as proposed in the Youden development concept? Given that the Youden development concept calls for a road to cover the present watercourse, what will happen to the water?

64. How will the destruction of the flooding buffers which are currently provided by the wetland affect properties and land below the site of the proposed development?

65. Given that surface material will have to be stripped from the land, how will this resource be dealt with?

66. What are the impacts of exposing the shale underlying the Old Mahone Bay School Lands and what are the implications in terms of arsenic and acid rock drainage?

67. Given the relatively steep slopes on the Old Mahone Bay School Lands, how much blasting and earthworks will be required in order to make the lands accessible by road and usable for the lot configurations, including full basements and parking, at the densities proposed in the concept?

68. What engineering costs and studies will be required in order for the Town to verify the feasibility of the Youden development concept? What will these studies cost?

69. What is the value of the standing timber on the old school lands? Who will get the benefit of the lumber on the land if the Youden development concept is implemented?

70. Will a study be commissioned on the wildlife that uses the Old Mahone Bay School Lands as habitat and the impacts of the proposed development on wild life?

71. Will a study be done of the flora of the Old Mahone Bay School Lands in order to identify area that might require preservation or protection?

72. Will an analysis be done to designate old trees on the site as heritage trees with a view to their protection?

73. A standard concept in the assessment of large development projects is to determine if there are alternatives that can deliver the same benefits with fewer negative impacts. Will the Town undertake such an assessment?

74. How many other parcels of land are owned by the Town?
(a) How big are they?
(b) Where are they located?
(c) Are they serviced or readily accessible to town utilities?

75. How many privately owned vacant serviced lots are there in Town?
(a) Where are they located?
(b) Are any of these available for development?

76. The South Shore Housing Authority seniors’ complex on Cherry Lane is located on 2.14 acres of land. The Town owns, in its own name, at least 2 parcels of comparable size in proximity to the downtown area. Both have full street frontage. One is accessible to Town services and one is un-serviced. Have these parcels been assessed to determine whether they can accommodate alternate, smaller scale developments that are more appropriate and more capable of responding to present and predicted needs of Town residents without incurring significant, expensive infrastructure costs?

Social and Economic

77. Major developments have the potential to cause social impacts both during construction and during their operational or on going existence. Is there any intention to carry out a comprehensive social impact assessment in relation to the proposed development?

78. HRM recently imposed a moratorium on new housing developments because of the costs to the municipality of ongoing servicing obligations following construction. When the moratorium was lifted it was lifted only in areas within the municipality that are considered growth centres. Will the Town consult HRM about its experiences in this regard?

79. The Town is planning to sell a large and central land assembly for about half its assessed value. The proposed development will impact dozens of adjacent properties and add 229 new residential units to the housing stock of the Town.
(a) What consideration has been given to the implications of the development concept for the value of properties and for the marketability of older housing stock in both the affected neighbourhoods and throughout Town?
(b) Specifically, what effect will the new housing have on property values of older homes owned by senior citizens who want to sell in order to move into the new development?
(c) What expert opinions have been sought as to the impact of the proposed development on housing values in the Town?

80. The Youden development concept will proceed in phases with the second and succeeding phases contingent on the sale of the previous phase(s). In order for the first phase to proceed as planned the Town intends to convey the land to Mr. Youden.
(a) What are the impacts and implications if the second or any subsequent phase is not built?
(b) Specifically, will the playing field be lost without the Town receiving the full benefits that it anticipates from the development concept?

81. The Town has been mandated under the Municipal Government Act to define what “affordable housing” and “special needs housing” mean in the Mahone Bay context. It has not done so. What is the definition of affordable housing in Mahone Bay?

82. What is the definition of “special needs” housing in Mahone Bay?

83. What is the policy of the Town in relation to apartments and low-cost or social housing (as distinct from affordable housing)?

84. How are these policies reflected in recent planning decisions such as the Quinlan development?

85. What is the timetable for revising the Town’s planning documents to provide for these social and economic dimensions to the planning process?

86. Will a public meeting(s) be held to discuss the issues before revision decisions are made by Council?


87. When the proposed development was announced to the media on May 17 the Mayor was quoted as saying that federal and provincial funding might be available for the development. Has the Town Council investigated the various sources of Federal and Provincial funding that can be utilized to support the collection of data, a thorough assessment of the Town’s needs, and the various means of addressing the challenges faced by the Town?

88. What federal and provincial funding is available to the Town and the developer for purposes of the proposed development in the way of grants, subsidies, loans or loan guarantees?

89. The Youden development concept for the Old Mahone Bay School Lands has been approved in principle by the Town Council because the Council argues that it will revitalize the Town, reverse current population trends, and have a significant positive impact on Town finances, and on rates and taxes. Will the Town disclose the financial analysis that supports these conclusions? Specifically, will there be additional costs to the town as a result of the addition of 230 new residential units?

90. What additional costs are predicted for the provision of the housing subsidies referred to in a media report following the May 17 announcement of the proposal, policing, solid waste collection and disposal, street cleaning and snow plowing, the operation and maintenance of Town infrastructure services and utilities, including the electrical utility and street lighting?

91. The size of the current Town staff is described by the Mayor as “limited”. What additional Town personnel will be required as a result of the demands of a 5-7 year $24 Million development project and a one third increase in the population of the Town? What are the costs associated with an increase in Town employees?

92. What costs will be incurred by the Town for purposes of completing the studies, legal agreements, design and planning assessments, inspection and other similar costs of finalizing the Youden development concept and then monitoring and regulating it to ensure compliance with standards during the 5-7 year construction period?

93. What are the gross revenues that will be generated for the Town during each phase of the development and following final completion?

94. What are the revenues that will be generated for the Town following completion of the Youden development concept net of all development and operation expenses to the Town?

95. Have spread sheets been prepared detailing all financial information, including revenues, costs and cash flows, in relation to each year of the development project and for a reasonable period following its final completion?

96. Have financial plans accounted for reasonably predictable scenarios such as significant variations in the number of units, lots and densities due to engineering, access and environmental constraints; delays in completion, the inability to proceed to a second or subsequent phase because assumed market demand does not materialize; fluctuations in interest and currency rates; and cost over-runs?

97. Will spread sheets demonstrating predicted town revenues, expenses and cash flows under different scenarios be made available to the public before decisions are made by the Council to transfer any of the Old Mahone Bay School Lands to Mr. Youden?

Municipal Elections in October

In October we will elect the Councillors and Mayor who will govern Mahone Bay for the next four years. It’s time to start thinking about who will put their names forward.

To get folks started in considering the possibility of standing for election or encouraging someone else to do so, there will be a meeting on  Sunday, March 30, 4:00 PM at the Mahone Bay Centre.  This will be an opportunity to speak with other Mahone Bay voters and to learn from some former Town Councillors what is involved in campaigning and acting as councillor.

Don’t be shy.  No commitment required, just an interest in civic affairs. You’ll be better prepared as a voter or as a potential councillor in the next election.

Proceedings of July 5, 2007 Public meeting, Mahone Bay

The meeting was organized by Valerie Hearder, Sue Bookchin, Muriel Agnes (an experienced facilitator and public educator), Deborah Hickman, Chris Heide, and Veryan Haysom with the co-operation of Mayor C. Joe Feeney. It was set up in four “blocks”, the first two for the sharing of information and the last two for public participation.

The stated purpose of the meeting was to engage the citizens of Mahone Bay in exploring strategies that meet the challenges we face while protecting the old school land.

The desired outcomes were:

— to generate ideas that address Mahone Bay’s challenges, and
— to establish an ongoing process of citizen engagement.

Here is a record of what transpired and what was said:

(Or read it on a printer-friendly PDF)

Block 1
Presentations on the value of the woods, wetlands and soccer field. Chris Heide spoke on the recreational value of the woods, Deborah Hickman showed a Powerpoint presentation on the ecological and environmental value of the woods and particularly the wetlands and Bob Sayer made a presentation on the value of the soccer field.

Block 2
Presentation by Mayor Joe Feeney on the financial and demographic challenges the town is facing.

Block 3 — Presentations by the public.

Note: some of the presenters brought handouts, and where available, they are included on this site — see “Presentations” in the menu or click on the links.

[Ground rules: Take a number. 3 minutes to speak. Listen respectfully and speak respectfully. Not debate or discussion tonight. Not to resolve anything. Use “we” only if speaking for a group, otherwise use “I”. Recorded by video, note taking and flipcharts.]

Dave Thoms, President of Mahone Bay Soccer Association

It is possible to have both development and a strong recreational structure.
• There are alternative public lands in town that haven’t been offered to developers.
• We request that the town develop the soccer field as a multi purpose playing field.
• We would like to see woodlands held as public.
• We are prepared to make a proposal…
• There are 3 acres on Hawthorne Hill.
• Consider these other areas before going forward.

Bob Sayer

I think there is an obligation on people opposed to the proposed development to come up with an alternative. I only hope they’ll be listened to.
I’m a CFA. 35 years.
I’m amazed at how small a community we are. Our tax base is tiny.
It worries me that the proposal is being made is a band-aid. What if we did this and in 5 years we still had the same problem of not being viable financially?

• Possibility of amalgamation with Municipality of Lunenburg or of Chester: Take the example of Liverpool. In 1996 it amalgamated with the municipality. But first it appointed a 2-person impartial committee of respected citizens who did the books and came up with a recommendation. At first the majority of town councillors were against it, as ours would be. But they voted unanimously for it when the facts were presented. There were considerable cost savings. Residential and commercial tax rate is now lower than in 1996. Garbage collection fee scrapped. The special commercial rate for business development was scrapped. Policing improved. Liverpool has been able to eliminate its $400,000 debt on the town water utility. And now they’re going to add a new water project to the town.

• This town has never done an objective, impartial study on amalgamation. We have people with opinions, but not based on facts. We need to do this.

(See Bob’s handout)

David Etter

I’ve raised this question of amalgamation to councillors, but they have a vitriolic emotional reaction against it.

Derwin Spencer.
Recent CFA. 64 Maple St.
Being new here, I’ve been exploring all of Mahone Bay and thinking of ways to develop the town as a tourist destination. Once you’ve seen Main St. and the churches, and if you’re not a shopper, what do you do? I congratulate those who work on the festivals. But we have other unrecognized resources that we are not promoting, not advertising.
• Waterfront could be developed for walking, more park benches and picnic tables
• Have more information signboards around: about the churches, other historical buildings, as Lunenburg does, particularly along Main St.
• Have more opportunities for people to get on the water – boat tours.
• Walking trails – they’re hidden away – they should be promoted more.
• Mahone Bay Centre should be better advertised to draw people in from the county and farther to take courses available there.
• Promote ourselves to bus tours more – and give them more reason to stay a while and walk the streets and shop.
• Generally we need to sell the town better; put some resources into it.

Barb Hayley.

2 year resident living on School St.
Recognized town planners Dover, Kohl and Partners (http://www.doverkohl.com/) say that poor planning causes people to lose confidence – it turns a NIMBY attitude into an attitude of resisting any kind of change anywhere. We need growth. The key is to have a master plan. Take into consideration what is valuable in the community. For example, the planners mentioned worked with a small town, Port Royal SC, population 4,000. Townspeople and councillors worked together to identify key private properties that could be developed, existing roads and rights of way that could be improved, how significant public spaces, open spaces, and public buildings could work together for preservation and conservation. Developers and planners do not always work in sync.
• We should work together with planning and architectural schools, develop a master plan, see how we can develop resources better.
• We have a gem, let’s develop our gem.
• Also should check out amalgamation.

Scott Cadillac.

Just moved here from Calgary with wife and 3 kids.
We sold our house in Calgary and drove here without coming in advance to find a place to live. We arrived in NS 2 months ago and decided to go town shopping. We had a defined list of criteria:
• no big box stores,
• not overrun with commercialism,
• character and culture,
• safe for kids,
• lots of green space,
• access to shopping and nature within walking distance of the house.
Mahone Bay met all these criteria. We took possession of our house on May 18. We felt we were the luckiest people in the world. We were willing to pay more for the house than we might have elsewhere; it was well worth it. The day after we moved in, we found out about this development. I came to think that maybe I made the worst decision of my life. I don’t pretend to know the alternatives, the politics, etc., but I will do what it takes.

Penny Carver

Lived in Lunenburg Co. for 11 years and Mahone Bay for 3.
I want to talk about the example of the little town of Craik, Saskatchewan, pop. 400, which had lost its grain elevator but found a creative way of dealing with its challenges. Working in partnership with other towns in the area, it studied its possibilities and decided to pursue a sustainable living project. Town Council was forward-looking. Now there’s an eco-village with economical building lots for green houses, an outreach centre, community action such as the 1-tonne challenge contest. Over the last 5 years, Craik, has turned around. 47 new families have moved in and there are new green industries, a chemical free golf course and lots more. See handout. There is funding available for sustainable development – matching the human needs of today without compromising future generations. Sustainability requires a balancing and meshing of economic, social and environmental factors, not the promotion of one at the expense of the others. See writeup about Craik by Camelia Frieberg.

Alleson Kase

See blue handout. [Some points below are taken from the handout.] I came to NS to do a degree in international development and stayed. I feel fortunate to live in Mahone Bay.

Successful community development builds on existing resources, not trading one for another. We can build on what we have while increasing sustainability of the town.

To do this, we have to do a careful study. A study of real estate trends in Canada done by Scotia Economics – http://www.scotiacapital.com/English/bns_econ/retrends.pdf – predicts where increases will occur in the future based on demographic and other data. Mr. Youden’s development looks like it wouldn’t work because of sluggish markets in the areas and age groups concerned. First time buyers will grow very slowly; they go for entry level homes in urban centres close to employment opportunities. It shows the importance of looking at statistics. The main increase is for seniors’ housing where people are moving up in quality and down in size.
• I’ve contacted an architecture professor at Dal who would be happy to place a senior grad student in Mahone Bay in the fall to show us what a real good town plan would look like.
• Have a variety of solutions to reflect diversity of housing
• Develop new residential units for the most likely market
• Spread units over several locations
• Preserve current resources while developing new ones
• Focus development on lands that would benefit from renewal
• Seniors’ units should be in areas that provide safe and easy access (flat terrain within walking distance of amenities)
• Explore creative financing ideas

Jim Wentzell

I’ve been involved with town budgets for the last 10 years in Mahone Bay. I worked for all 3 towns. Did a study on recreation facilities a few years ago. My views are a little different . I agree that we need a good balance between development and what exists. Some of these proposals have looked at that. I grew up in Bridgewater but have worked for all the towns, the County and Queens Municipality. Of all of them, Mahone Bay is the best place to live. It’s the one place where you can park your car in one spot and walk the whole town. I can walk to work. I feel fortunate with the council I work for. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, and they are positive too.
There are 5 issues that are critical to this town.
• Safe drinking water. Canadian standards have changed. It’s costing $3.5 million for improved water.
• Affordable housing and population decline. To me that is key to the survival to any town. When I looked to buy a house there was only one I could afford. I’m the only town employee who owns a house in the town. Businesses too – ask their employees who can afford to live in the town. More residents are needed to run the festivals, the Mahone Bay Centre, the fire department.
• Economic growth and improved business climate. Businesses here operate on a tight margin. We need more year-round residents and it might attract more services.
• Seniors housing and assisted living for aging population. There are 71 seniors living alone in their own house now, there are 77 that are over 55 living with family [??? not sure I got this]. This is a great need.
• Stabilized tax, electrical and water rates.

This is the not the only patch of woods in town, and there are alternatives to this particular soccer field.

The amalgamation question should be studied in detail. However it wouldn’t solve the issues of affordable housing, seniors’ housing, assisted living nor economic stability for businesses.

Keith Macdonald

I have been in Mahone Bay for 23 years. I’ve worked in finance in Halifax. I have to thank Council for bringing a clean harbour to Mahone Bay, and they are working to bring clean drinking water. It’s not easy. But we have to look at the numbers, and be fair and reasonable. Unfortunately the mailout has mistakes in it. (See Keith’s notes which he handed out.)

The stated decline in population by 27.5% should be 11 %. And we’re not alone. Most towns in NS are in decline.

It says we pay the highest per capita tax. This is a misrepresentation of the facts. We don’t pay tax per capita. In my family, our children have left home and our taxes are the same. We pay taxes per property. We are actually 29th of 31 towns in average taxes paid.

We actually have 25 homes assessed at 80 – 100k – but they’re not on the market because we’re living in them. The average tax rate is skewed by high end properties. We have the 3rd lowest tax rate in NS in Mahone Bay – and why? If you have a $100,000 home you’re not actually paying higher taxes here than elsewhere.

Lower end taxes are about neutral. Looking at increases of utilities: we might have a 75% increase in water rates, 60% increase in garbage disposal – but 60% of $15 isn’t much. It’s not worth quibbling about.

Also, 2/3 of the expense on the water treatment facility is paid by provincial and federal governments.

There are possible financial solutions to consider.
• Assessments for some houses are way below market value. Maybe they should be adjusted.
• We could generate bylaw revenue if town employees could issue tickets rather than hiring an officer to do it.
• How about selling the school land to the nature trust?

Veryan Haysom

• Town-owned land. I’m concerned about the procedures followed for disposal or sale of the land. Council should commit the town to hold a public meeting and hold a plebiscite if 1/3 of the people there call for one.
• Financial suggestions – see discussion paper. One challenge is to increase revenues other than by increased rates and taxes. The town can earn money through creating a corporation – the Mahone Bay Housing Corporation – with a broad mandate including development of special needs and affordable housing. As long as the Town controlled 90% of voting shares and the corporation earned 90% of its revenue within the town, it would not pay income taxes. It could return earnings to the town through dividends or re-invest in housing. I suggest that the Town kick-start the Corporation by transfering the 3 acres on Kinburn St. to the Corporation. The town would take back a market value mortgage, the Corporation would develop financing, or could enter into a joint venture with a private developer.
• Sustainability. The town must establish an integrated community sustainability plan, with consideration of the environmental, cultural, social and economic dimensions of the town’s identity. To assist the town do this, I suggest an ad-hoc citizens advisory council on sustainability with working groups in the 4 areas mentioned holding informal kitchen table meetings. (See Veryan’s handout on this item.)

Richard Nowe

Lifelong resident 86 Fairmont, next to the soccer field and driveway. I have in my mind the best interests of the whole town. I thought this plan was great – especially for volunteerism. I’m a 35 year veteran of the fire department and am now Lions Club president. We need development. The fire department used to have 40 members, and the majority lived in Mahone Bay. There are now only 27, with only 9 living in the town. How is this fire department going to live up to its motto, “to protect the beauty around us”? And the Lions Club supports lots of things including youth soccer. But I don’t feel that the soccer field is as important as the chance to bring in more people in the volunteer sector. If you don’t believe me, come along to the next fire. Sometimes only 5 members respond to the call. This year we could no longer do our garden party which was a major fundraiser for us – a social gathering that’s been taking place for 50-60 years, but we just don’t have the volunteers. We also do things for the classic boat festival. Seniors can’t respond to alarms.

Mike Vautour

I’m a CFA and am soon going away again. But I’ve developed projects that are here to stay. One is a sustainable community survey, helping to create a database of what people are prepared to do for sustainability. There are simple ways to save water for example. There’s $24,000 allotted to Mahone Bay to do this.

I also created the Youth Stewardship Centre with Jake Wentzell who is reaching out to 200 youth. It’s inspired by the green space, and the Centre needs that green space to operate. It just started in April.

• The Nova Scotia Sea School wants to relocate as their rent in Lunenburg is going way up. I talked to the Director, Amy Schwartz and Paul Seltzer at MBC about it – we should try to fit them in.

Karen Janigan

I married a Mahone Bayer, and we’re living in his parents’ house. I’ve lived in a lot of different places. I have a lot of unanswered questions.
• Are we going to protect the old school lands? All of it? Can some of it be developed?
• Where is all the town owned land? How many undeveloped lots do we have that would be available?
• Do we put a surcharge on vacant property that hasn’t been developed? Is it high enough?
• Do we do a debenture run in the town when we need money?
• We’re not in charge of our assessments. They are presently capped at 10% and soon will be capped at the inflation rate. If we raise the rates, can we shelter the people who don’t have the income to pay?
• Is there another way to tax than a flat tax?
• How many people here work in this town? How can we make it so more people who have to work CAN work in this town?
• Can we do an incubator for the arts – where the town invests in a formal way for artists to come – with business support, shipping support, raising money in town to build on a centre of excellence?
• How many people in the town are sitting on committees? There is a great brain trust here in this room. People have to step up. We need young people.

My husband left here in 1978 and thought he’d never be able to move back. He’s lucky, one of the few of his class who are living here now. We need more people to be able to do that.

Lila O’Connor – lived here 45 years.

I was going to speak for myself, but feel I have to speak as a Town councillor.
I have been asked, who is on the committee that organized this meeting.
• Regarding the soccer field, the town looks after the field for 25 weeks.
• As chair of PAC this is the 6th meeting that we’ve had in the last 5? years. We’ve had open meetings before. The Chamber of Commerce had a meeting and people did not attend. There were opportunities for input; when the old school was being turned over to the centre there was a meeting. You wanted to see development on the rest of the land. We are now discussing the rest of the old school land. This is the 6th public meeting on the subject.
• We have the lowest tax rate but also the highest assessment. Assessment went up 4% and the tax rate went down. Town does not have any input into assessment. We have to go along with province. The 10% cap is only on older homes, not new ones.
• Do we discount lower income persons on their property taxes? Yes we do that.
• Anything mentioned here this evening, the council has looked at it. We have tried to satisfy the majority of the people. We do have a swimming pool, a tennis club, playground, soccer field, and we were told that maybe we could do something with the —
• We are not new and just starting. As a councillor we have done everything we could.

Deborah Hickman

Been living here 23 years. We’re here because we have a house. What we don’t have here is work. We’re here because we love this community, and we spend most of our time volunteering here. My husband has worked all over the province, and I commute to Baffin Island. I’m involved with a tourist business here and 2 months a year is not enough to make a living.
• What we need here is not necessarily more houses first, we need work. I’m not saying that council has not tried to attract industry and jobs, but we need more.
• There are properties around town where there could be industry, behind the plastics plant to the rail line, if they would sell it – like HB Studios in Lunenburg. There’s a large heritage building on Main St. for sale.
• The Town needs to be proactive.
• I do thank council for what they have done. It hasn’t been overlooked.

Lisa Linscott, 33 Zwicker

I’m a longtime CFA, been here for 25 years. This is home to me. There are things I love and things I detest about the town.
• I love the green space. Someone said there are other green spaces in town? Very few. None that can compare with the acreage in back of town. As a Guide and Brownie leader I went there all the time, and now go with my dog as the kids have grown.
• I was recently involved through my work with the Imagine Bridgewater program. I was very sad for Mahone Bay that we have so little green space – we could develop it better. Bridgewater has more green space.
• I am of a moderate income level, having been a single mother. It has been very difficult, and I’ve worked hard. It’s very difficult to sustain a household and live in this town. I’m sorry, the prices mentioned for the homes in this development are not for moderate income people like me. They’re too expensive.
• I work with seniors. We need to help them, but not at the expense of younger people.

Joe Feeney

• Keith, I apologize, about the calculations [in the mailout] – there’s a math error in the decline in population figure.
• You’re right; the use of per capita is not appropriate. We have the highest tax assessment per household, not per capita, true.
• Our tax rate is low because our assessments are high.
• And yes, we do have a system where we rebate taxes to those on limited income.

Block 4 – What could citizen involvement look like in Mahone Bay?
[Comments from the floor]

Invite town council to set up an ad hoc committee to work with citizens who would be invited to participate in it.

Wasn’t there a list of things that people might be interested in – environment, economics, cultural, social justice… committees could be formed around those working groups suggested by Veryan Haysom. Citizens could be invited to participate in those groups – even have signup sheets. Groups could do research and discussion on the issues.

Town has a Planning Advisory Committee. Perhaps some people would like to join. It meets the first Tuesday of every month. There are three members of public who are members. Meetings are open to the public. It will be meeting again in September.

Specific short term ideas – Council needs to let us know what they’re going to do about them. I’ve heard more ideas tonight than I’ve heard in a long time. They need to be named and brought to Town Council for them to work on. And have citizens involved in specific working groups.

What I need is a managed, coherent planning process that I feel I could be involved in. I wasn’t aware of the 6 meetings that Lila mentioned; perhaps they were piecemeal, not integrated, like 20-20 Vision or Imagine Bridgewater. I need a large vision that I could plug into.

(Richard Novossiltzeff) Regarding the Watershed Committee – there will be new regulations shortly re Oakland Lake. No one from Mahone Bay showed up at the meetings that were called. How can we get some kind of involvement from the public? This is incredible tonight, this kind of participation.

(Virginia Uhlman) Every year we ask for people to serve on various committees. Sometimes we get no response at all. More people want to be on PAC but not the other committees. And run for Town Council. Councillors are often acclaimed, not elected, as there’s no one else interested in running. Elections are in October [2008]. Get more involved in the governance of the Town.

(Jim Wentzell) There can be a lot of informal communication in a small town. You can get your voice heard on a one-by-one basis; speak personally to Joe, Jim, councillors.

(Sharon Thomas, new in town) I got inspired by a lot of the people here at the last meeting, and want to help out but had no idea how to go about doing that. If someone could leave names and phone numbers so I’d know who to contact. I’m interested in working groups.

E-mail list.

Set up a database. Access the town, communicate better by e-mail, get the internet working for the town. Ask the people.

The rules of order at committee meetings aren’t working and that’s part of why people don’t go. The Town should be operating with a structure that is integrated, and that enables us all to be involved together. There needs to be a group of people who will figure out a process to present to the public about how we can proceed. We need a group to work together on the next step. Talk with Sue Bookchin.

To publicize meetings, notices in the paper don’t work anymore. Use e-mail and internet.

Get 3 people from the organizing committee together with 3 people from the council.

(Valerie Hearder) I’m the one who called this meeting. We (the organizers) have a website – and we will put the information from this meeting on the website. This issue has woken up the community in an exciting and deep way. This is a different kind of issue, one that really touches people. But I want to know that if I as a citizen put in my energy and time, will my ideas be listened to by Council? I need to know that we’ll be taken seriously. We need a mechanism by which citizens can participate in the process in an active way.

These notes were scribed during the meeting by Heather Holm and reviewed and edited by several others.

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Lots of constructive ideas

“I’ve heard more ideas tonight than I’ve heard in a long time,” observed a resident at the public meeting held yesterday, July 5th, which was organized by a group of concerned citizens (the folks behind this website) and Mayor Joe Feeney, and attended by about 200 people. The purpose of the meeting was to give residents an opportunity to share ideas about options for the town and also to discuss ways that citizens could be better involved in planning the town’s future.

Town councillors expressed frustration in getting people involved in the past, while citizens identified some barriers to participation, and presented many positive ideas for the town’s development while preserving the best of what we have.

We have compiled the minutes of the meeting and are working on getting the handouts that some presenters had prepared. Feel free to comment here on the meeting. This issue has woken up the community in an exciting way that bodes well for the town’s future.

Record of the meeting [printable PDF]

Click on “Citizen Presentations” in the menu for some of the individual presentations that were made.

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.
• 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.

• 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


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.


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


by Veryan Haysom


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.


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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