Latest on the R1 issue

Bob Wrye, deputy mayor, mayor in waiting and chair of the PSPAC, has spoken. He has suggested that the Planning Committee allow R1 to stay as is and also drop the flag lots and bonus density proposals from the draft MPS and LUB. This is not to say that the committee will follow his advice ( well, they probably will and Bob will be the hero of the day) ; still we advise you still go to the meeting tonight . There are other issues on the table, changes in the other zones which must be scrutinized. Keep their feet to the fire.

Here is Wrye’s recommendation in full.

DENSITY ISSUES REVIEW AND PROPOSAL
On March 18 the PSPAC began its review of the proposed Municipal Planning Strategy
(MPS) for the Town of Wolfville. This strategy had been developed at the request of
Council by the Sustainability Task Force following a two year process. There are many
changes proposed in this document. Of particular interest at this point are changes that
would increase the density in existing residential areas thereby reducing the town’s
footprint or in the view of the committee making more efficient use of land that was
already developed. There were three principal changes:
1. Increase the allowable uses in the existing R1 Zone.
2. Allow the creation of ‘Flag Lots’ on existing lots with large enough frontage and
square footage.
3. Designate certain large lots in town for ‘Bonus Density’ developments under
strict development guidelines.
In bringing these proposals forward for public discussion the Task Force did what was
asked of them in creating a vision for the Town that they believed would assist the Town
in responding to local and global sustainability issues. It was always understood that
there would be full public consultation at both the Planning and Council Tables before
the new MPS would be adopted. It was also clearly understood that this document was
subject to change at either one or both tables.
The three proposals above amongst the others in the draft MPS were brought before the
Public Participation Meeting that was held in the Al Whittle Theatre on the 18th. Little
support was shown for any proposal that would bring increased density. In addition there
was significant opposition to any change in the R1 Zone.
The PSPAC met again on Apr. 8 in a public session where the public were encouraged to
participate. It was clear that the opposition to changes in the R1 zone was widespread.
The petition that was presented contains a significant number of signatures of citizens in
the R1 zone as well as people who live in other zones in town. Little or no public support
was heard for the proposed changes. A vote on whether to remove the R1 changes from
the MPS was defeated in a tie vote.
So where do we go from here. This has become a very divisive and acrimonious issue in
our community. While as an advisory committee we have the ability to recommend to
Council what we believe is the right thing for Wolfville, I believe that to do so in the face
of the significant and vocal opposition from such a large number of our citizens would be
wrong.
First it was made clear early in the Task Force meetings that for any change to be
effective there had to be a buy in from the public. That has not happened. Second
whether we believe in the global crisis or not, there is no significant housing crisis in
Wolfville that would warrant our ignoring such a significant part of our population.
At this point in time there is no reason to believe that any sections of the MPS which
would increase density in the developed areas of Town would be acceptable. It is time to
move on before the debate becomes even more divisive, and bring our Town back
together again. I would suggest that we need to do two things:
1. Restore the allowable uses in the R1 zone to what is allowed currently and
remove flag lots and bonus density from the MPS. To debate the latter two at this
point with the clear sentiment in Town against increased density would be counter
productive.
2. Recommend to Council that at some point in time they should engage the
community in further discussions on these issues to see whether any consensus
can be reached on future changes. I would not presume to suggest nor would I
want to debate at this point how this could take place. However a meaningful and
constructive participation by residents of effected areas will be vitally important
to this process.
In my view there are a great number of changes in the MPS which are very positive in
terms of increasing our sustainability, of providing better options to negotiate future
developments and for providing a regulatory framework to deal more effectively with
development proposals. As long as the density issues are outstanding and continue to
divide the community we cannot deal with them in a constructive fashion.
This item will be the first item up for discussion on Tuesday night. I strongly urge you to
adopt the recommendations above and move forward to discussing the other
opportunities for improvement suggested in the MPS draft.
Robert Wrye,
Chair, PSPAC

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