FALL RIVER: Council chambers at Halifax City Hall filled with smiles from the majority of those in attendance on March 5, but no more than that of Sandra Carr and Laurie Baker.
The smiles came after a four-plus hour public hearing as the voting on an amendment to zoning which would allow the Carr Farm development of five buildings of three and four storey in height and up to 400 units on 46 acres of land on Fall River Road. It would located across from Mason’s store.
The result showed regional council passed the motion 13-2. Only councillors Lindell Smith and Shawn Cleary—both who sided with residents opposed to the development due to varying concerns—voted against its approval.
Carr and Baker have been staunch proponents of bringing seniors housing to the Fall River area for almost two-plus decades. They both feel the Carr Farm development, which developer Glen Clark hopes to have seniors beginning to move into by the end of 2020, is exactly what people of their age need. The development will be marketed as 55-plus—or in other terms, age-friendly.
HRM Planner Thea Langille started the public hearing off by providing an informative presentation on the new zoning change and what the proposed development from GFC Management will look like.
After going through the presentation, and answering councillors questions, the public were allowed to speak. This was how councillors heard concerns from those for and against it.
Mike Barclay, a resident who lives close by the proposed development, wondered how a Visioning plan document so embraced just a couple years ago can now be seen as outdated and requiring change.
“The kind of blasting required would risk the homes and wells in Fall River Village, including my own,” he said.
Stephanie Appleby-Jones said she found it difficult for her to take a stance, given Clark is her neighbour. She hoped her disagreement with the development would not hinder that relationship.
“I fear if this development is approved it will be the point of no return for large developments in Fall River,” said Appleby-Jones.
Appleby-Jones said she believes in standing up for what is right, and that’s why she was speaking out.
Krista Snow spoke in support of the development, saying it was okay for residents to disagree. She said the need for seniors housing is immediate.
“There is no alternative in Fall River,” she said empathetically to council. “Your staff have said that. This development fits.”
Janet Kane of Waverley supports the development.
“We need this now,” she said. “We want to stay here in our community.”
During the developers presentation, Northwood Home Care CEO Janet Simm spoke, confirming they would be involved in the development with varying services.
Christine Mirabelli, a senior herself, implored councillors to deny it.
“This development does not fit the Visioning planning for Fall River,” she said.
Robert Strang, the Chief Medical Officer for N.S., is a 15 year Fall River resident. He supports the development.
“Partnerships like this with Northwood will help seniors live independently and they will be healthier,” he told councillors.
Better Homes & Garden Realtors Trish Chesal and Matt Tingley are both long-time residents of Fall River. The two currently reside in Waverley, and support the development.
“My parents have seen many of their good friends leave because of the lack of appropriate housing,” Chesal said. “The lack of housing in the area has resulted in a devastating effect on seniors and their families. This development for seniors may not even be adequate in the near future.”
Steve Fairbairn didn’t want councillors to get the wrong impression that the support they heard for seniors was indeed support for the development.
“The original plan for 120 units was acceptable. This is not,” he said. “We shouldn’t be here tonight. It’s the wrong project. I think this will set a precedent if it goes ahead.”
Councillor David Hendsbee said he was supporting the development. He said the site could bring the community together, especially if amenities like a dog park is included.
“This is not the right development for this spot,” said MacCormick. “Let’s make the right choice.”
MLA Bill Horne spoke in support of the development, mentioning traffic concerns residents have on Fall River Road would be mitigated upon completion of the Aerotech Connector and Sackville-Burnside bypass.