R1 still at risk

After all the effort to get people out and express their views, many Wolfville residents are back at square one, that is, with a fight on their hands still, if they want to keep the R1 zone as is.

There was a huge turnout – many attendees stood throughout- at the Irving Centre for the meeting of the PSAC which was speaking to the recommendations of the Sustainability Task Force proposing several measures to increase density in Wolfville.

One person voiced early on what we were thinking – that in probably technically the most sophisticated building in Wolfville, it seemed strange there were no mikes for the speakers. It WAS quite difficult to hear at the back of the room but we heard most of it.

The vision statement and declaration of sustainability, heavily larded with environmental buzzwords, and described even by committee members as “pie in the sky”, attracted a lot of criticism from the crowd, at least as interpreted by the contract planner.

Many people spoke with feeling over the long evening against the proposed changes which, if passed, will allow accessory units, home businesses, institutional uses, and parks and play grounds in the present R1 residential areas which would essentially merge them into the R1A zones.

A petition with 350 or so signatures asking that there be no change to the R1 zone was delivered and read into the minutes.

A few people, including some students, did speak in support of the vision and of the elimination of R1 but they were countered ably by those who argued that the elimination of the R1 zone would not achieve the laudable ends intended and instead would extend problems which now exist in higher density zones into residential areas. It was argued by many, including the deputy mayor, that without strong housing pressure presently in Wolfville ( there is for example a 20% vacancy rate in the rental market) there appears to be no immediate need to increase density into areas in this way outside the core, especially when almost 100% of R1 residents are against it.

The deputy mayor got a big laugh at one point when he said, on a point of order, “Trust me”.

Several on the committee must have been moved to tears by the passionate but deluded plaint of one of their number who predicted dire consequences in the town due to climate change if we didn’t individually change our evil ways by living in smaller houses or taking in more residents; his house was too big he said for the few people in it [ the reaction of the crowd to this was “MOVE!”] but not only he should make this sacrifice but all of us, as a town, should do so and eliminating R1, however tiny an effect it would have on our carbon footprint, was the only thing to do. [Which is why we try to disabuse people of the sad misapprehension that the environmental sky is falling wherever possible. It isn’t just harmless hyperbole; this unfounded ideology, based on foolishness, has real and unfortunate consequences.]

The committee finally voted to amend the draft to eliminate the institutional use part of the proposal but a later motion to leave R1 as is ( with the exception of an allowance of parks and playgrounds) was defeated by a tie vote.

Most of the attendees were visibly angered that their strong and vigorous defence of the R1 zone was ignored by half of the committee. Some residents have previously made submissions to the Council or to the PSAC which also seem to have no effect. [these submissions can be viewed from this page on the Town website. We have David Daniels to thank for this ability to view them there we understand.] Why don’t you add your views? And come out to the next meeting of the PSAC which will be April 22, venue to be determined.

One lady was heard to say as she left ” When is the next election?”

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