Councillors frustrated at Windgate development public hearing process

Councillor Lisa Blackburn is seen deep in thought as she listens to an answer at a council meeting. (Healey photo)

BEAVER BANK: Two area councillors were not fans of the way a public hearing on a contentious development that crosses both their districts took place.

District 14 (Upper/Middle Sackville-Lucasville-Beaver Bank) Councillor Lisa Blackburn and Cathy Deagle Gammon, who represents District (Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley) were speaking of the proposed Windgate Development on Windgate Drive in Beaver Bank.

The Marquee Investments development would see road reserves built from the development into adjacent streets in Capilano Estates in Windsor Junction.

It proposes to be a 374-unit Classic Open Space Design Development subdivision between Capilano and Monarch-Rivendale subdivisions.

However, while residents spoke against the development and the issues it will cause, the actual public hearing on Dec. 13 was just on changing the zoning for 48.5 acres to construct seniors housing, which also allows the development agreement to even be considered. There will not be a second public hearing on the development.

That left both Blackburn and Deagle Gammon, frustrated and uncertain why this was the process.

“The process is not the best and I still don’t understand why there isn’t a separate Public Hearing for the Development Agreement when it comes to Community Council in the new year,” said Blackburn.

Deagle Gammon said she has since learned this is common. She said it was not evident until the meeting the decision was to only vote on the zone amendment.

“However, I am not a fan,” she said. “The delay from public input to decision is a concern. The zone needed to be approved and the regulation states that that decision can be appealed within so many days (hence no date could be set for the development agreement).

“Also, the development agreement could not be voted on until the zone has final approval. I would have preferred that the public hearing was only on the zone amendment.”

Blackburn did offer some hope, however.

“The good news is there is still an opportunity to speak at Community Council about this project,” she said.

Both said the concerns residents brought forward regarding the cut through onto Elsie Victoria and other Capilano roads were heard.

“The residents of Capilano expressed their concerns very well both in person and in written submissions,” said Deagle Gammon. “The discussion focused well on the concerns of a community negatively impacted by an adjacent development.”

Blackburn agreed.

“I thought the discussion went well and gave residents a better sense of the process, as clunky as it is,” she said. “I hope folks left that meeting better informed.”

The two said they both had good takeaways from the public hearing, held in December.

“I get the concerns from Capilano Estates residents about the road reserve and it’s frustrating when homebuyers don’t get the full story on their property when they purchase,” said Blackburn. “We all want to see more housing for seniors, and it was my sense that residents don’t oppose the development, just the street cut-throughs.”

Deagle Gammon concurred.

“The balance residents gave was appreciated, the majority are not opposed to development just the concern on the use of cut throughs that will negatively impact neighboring residential streets and the waste water treatment plants in terms of location, monitoring for effectiveness and safety,” she said.

The two were asked what the next steps were now with the zoning amendment approved.

“We wait to see if the zone amendment is appealed, once that is known if no appeal then the Development Agreement is put on the agenda of the NWCC meeting in the new year,” said Deagle Gammon.

“Residents will be able to sign up to speak in the public participation part at that meeting and have their concerns heard. There may not be a formal hearing process, but still opportunities to be heard,” Blackburn said.