Submission to Council

Via the ratepayers group, aka the 700 club , here is David Daniels submission to Council on the MPS and LUB review presented at the last public input meeting, which was held Aug 11. This is only one of several submissions at that meeting.

by David Daniels
Wolfville Ratepayer
August 11, 2008

I am one of the handful of people who followed this process from the outset. I participated in several Community Circles; and I attended almost all of the Sustainability Task Force and Planning Advisory Committee meetings.

And I’ve written a great deal about the MPS.

And so I’ll try to keep my comments brief.

In my view the process of rewriting the MPS has been flawed largely because of town’s failure to engage the public in a meaningful way.

When I’ve made this observation in the past the “Community Circle” meetings are always provided as a counter example.
And here I would reference the comments of Mr. Brown, who was a member of the STF, at the final STF meeting held a few weeks ago, on July 22: The Community Circles were meant to go out to the community to get information. The Task Force got no product; and the Task Force never in its deliberations acted in any way on what the Community Circles had uncovered because it was all incomplete.

For those who attended the STF and PAC meetings, it was a frustrating experience. How many times, when I or others made comments or suggestions, was the response “thank you for your comment.” And that was it.

But even a “thank you” is better than the numerous times I and others submitted written suggestions to improve the process and the MPS which were simply ignored and not even acknowledged.

There was mention in the May 2, 06 STF meeting that Karen Dempsey would develop a new public participation program for the formal plan review process. Again this new public participation program was mentioned by Mr. Brideau in his September 2006 response to the Community Circle report which indicated citizens lacked trust in the town government. As far as I know no such program was ever developed.

And I could find no new public participation program incorporated in the new MPS to help guide future planning decisions.

The final product of almost three years’ effort is seriously flawed, in part because of the failure to engage the public, witness the mess with R1 to R1A proposal.

I’ve pointed out numerous problems with the MPS: I’ll just mention two tonight.

· There was a failure to address virtually any planning issue which did not fall under the rubric of “environmental sustainability.” For example, is there a desirable population size for Wolfville. What are the planning implications of the decreasing enrolment at Acadia; and the increasing number of retirees moving to Town. And what if anything can be done through planning to attract young families with children, besides assuming that all that is needed are more affordable housing.

· Second, there was failure to investigate and provide details and facts about the Town. How can one plan for the future not knowing about the present. The most obvious example is that there is no information about car ownership and use in the town. How can one make plans to reduce the use of the automobile without knowing how cars are used by residents to get to work and shop?

The proposed MPS improves upon the protections the MPS provides for the natural environment. But we need to ask: was this incremental improvement worth the $160,000 plus price tag and the almost three years devoted to rewriting the MPS and LUB.

Should the MPS and LUB be approved by Council? I agree with Mr. Irving. My concern is that their adoption will be viewed as an acknowledgement that the planning process in the Town was successful and complete.

Instead, what the town needs to do is address the pressing planning issues facing the town, with a real program to engage the public.

David A. Daniels

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