Notes: RP5 and Musquodoboit Harbour

My speaking notes on RP5 and Musquodoboit Harbour.  CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Thank you to all the people who spoke for or against the regional plan as presented last night. I really appreciate all the thoughtful input and comments ranging from downtown development and the environment, watercourses and green belting.

Mr Mayor, do we still get fined $2.00 if we don’t talk about Musquodoboit Harbour?

So as Halifax South Downtown councillor it of course falls to me to discuss Musquodoboit Harbour.

My son has dated a young lady from Musquodoboit has three years and he only got his license last year, so I know the area. The Dobbits Bakehouse, the old school house, Harbour Fish and Chips and the icecream place. It is a wonderful community.

So my deepest regret is hearing that the community has become convinced that this is a sneak attack. There have been at least three meetings on the eastern shore over the last two years, Oyster Pond, Gaetz Brook, and Sheet Harbour. Three of the 18 meetings that were held in the entire municipality! Draft 4 was first published January 2014. The process is two years old. There was certainly no attempt to hide this process from the residents of the Harbour. As one resident talked about last night, I’m sure I’ve argued about RP5 with Councillor Hendsbee on the Rick Howe Show more than once in the last year.

What RP5 proposes is that Musquodoboit Harbour would be local growth centre. Let me repeat – growth. If you read the plan there is nothing in that proposed designation that blocks growth. I know there has been some confusion with the provincial representative out there, and some misinformation has been spread, it is really unfortunate that this caused such upset in the community.

I can guarantee you that HRM has no interest or plan to move the rink or the library or the rec office. Chezzetcook is not any kind of growth centre, HRM has no interest to move these services out of the village, we simply will not, will never consider doing that.

I heard Ker, Chair community association say that the Harbour is a village. I agree Musquodoboit Harbour is more of a rural village than a town format, the intention of “town” is more Kentville, Wolfville, the village model is more Canning or Hantsport. I think the harbour is more of a village.

Here is the difference between rural growth and local growth.

Rural District Growth Centre
• Town scale
• Express bus service
• Consideration of central wastewater collection and water distribution for Porters Lake
• Consideration of central water for Fall River

Rural Local Growth Centre
• Village scale
• Cost Shared Community-based Transit
• For Hubbards: possible central wastewater collection and water distribution services

Be careful what you wish for – do you really want town scale development? What it says below in policy S9 is that council shall give consideration to the things outlined in these tables, so even being in a rural district growth centre there are no guarantees. Both of these offer the possibility of water – but actually getting water is a separate issue.  Council may introduce water later, or council may not, no matter what this chart says.

I want to repeat there is NOTHING AT ALL not a single thing in this plan that blocks or stops development in either designation. This was never the intention and this has never been word or intent of the policy. To my mind only real block on rural development is Musquodoboit Harbour are the issues around water.

It is absurd to read today that would cost between 15-20 thousand per home to address this issue and that it might not be considered.

This council can and should consider this, to ensure the stability of this community, especially given the willingness of residents to shoulder much of the burden over some time, but WHY would we say no to that? As one person said last night- help us our get out of our way – I think we can help you and get out of your way.

There is a city in the region but the whole region is not a city. We need to make sure we don’t promise to delivery a city level of service where it is cost prohibitive and in many cases not want.

Lets be totally clear – Our objective in Halifax should be to provide the best rural services of any rural area in Atlantic Canada, if not all of Canada.

I will support the motion to move Musquodoboit Harbour into the Rural District Growth designation, if that is really what the community wants, though again, be careful what you wish for. And again, I am really sorry that the community has been lead to believe that this plan in any way was intending to block growth in the Harbour, because that was certainly not our intent.