Developments, Boundary Review in Fall River/Waverley dominated 2022 for Councillor Deagle Gammon

FALL RIVER: Angst is how one local councillor sums up the year 2022 for her district.

Councillor Cathy Deagle Gammon said that the year was all about developments in Fall River and angst from residents over those developments. She represents Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley on HRM Regional Council.

“It was really about seeing a community divided,” she said. “It was disappointing, but understandable in the moment.”

She said that angst was clear when the site plan approval came through for the Fall River Road Development (formerly called the Carr Farm development). A community group appealed the development, but North West Community Council rejected that appeal 4-1 (Deagle Gammon was the lone dissenting voice at NWCC, voting on side with the community)

“Because of the appeal from those in the area of the development the whole community saw, in their minds, and I believe rightly so, an increase in scope beyond what they believed was going to happen,” said Deagle Gammon.

“There were other details that came out that made people very concerned, the biggest of which was an on site septic system that would pump treated effluent into Lake Thomas.”

She said there are still concerns in the community today that N.S. Environment and Climate Change, under Minister Tim Halman, have approved the septic system therefore HRM has accepted the approval.

“I think the biggest fear that remains is what happens if that plant fails? We do know there are 11 families that take their drinking water from Lake Thomas, so they’re very concerned,” said Deagle Gammon.

Deagle Gammon said as a councillor being able to listen objectively to every side of the story and figuring out how to navigate to get good answers.

“I just don’t want good answers, I want ones that are evidence-based that people can stand behind,” she said. “That’s the best thing you can do as a councillor.”

Deagle Gammon said looking at 2023 for developments, they need a lot of attention.

“There’s a lot of attention on speeding, traffic, the presence of the RCMP,” she said.

She said there is a lot of work ongoing with regards to the Turf Field Project as well.

“There’s lots of work being done by the committee and cooperation being done by the federal, municipal, and provincial governments,” she said. ‘There will be an update coming on the progress from the committee soon I’m sure.”

Deagle Gammon said the boundary review also was a focal point for residents especially those in Lakeview and Wellington to Grand Lake area.

“Lakeview showed up at the public meeting in spades, how impressive that was in getting their concerns out to the committee looking at the boundary review,” she said. “Dartmouth side of District 1 showed up at their meeting too.”

Lakeview appeared to be excluded from the Waverley-Fall River boundary, and plopped into Sackville.

“They have been at those before, and had to come out again,” said Deagle Gammon.

From Barry’s Run to Spider Lake, residents there were disappointed previously to become part of District 1. They did a nice presentation and as a result the second iteration of the boundaries respects both of those.

However, residents need to keep eyes open when the NSUARB holds meetings regarding the reviews. Until they put their stamp on it, things can still change.

“There is a risk for District 1 as it has the geography but not the population,” said Deagle Gammons. “We are very concerned when that will go to the USARB and whether it will be accepted. We’re hopeful that it will be.”

She said there are 4-5 development applications in the que for Waverley-Fall River, which will see a population increase in the next eight years with another 1,000 estimated voters.

“The issue is more academic in criteria for the UARB, community fit, voter parity, communities of interest,” she said. ‘It seems from some research I have done is that population seems to weigh more heavily in decision making process.”

Deagle Gammon’s district has about 42 different communities between Waverley all the way to Lemon Hill in the Musquodoboit Valley. All have different community groups that need support.

Something the Cape Breton native is proud to have been able to do in 2022 is support community groups to leverage funding, and see federal and provincial funding support for projects, like the accessible outdoor playground at the Carroll’s Corner Community Centre.

Deagle Gammon also is awaiting a staff report on looking at a helicopter view of traffic in Fall River-Waverley. She wants a staff report that can give some long-range planning, including looking at the lights at Hwy 2 being inefficient.

“There’s a hope that the Wellington Connector will alleviate some traffic at the lights,” she said. ‘It will in terms of Wellington Grand Lake Oakfield, but it won’t in terms of Fall River.”

Right now, Capilano, Windsor Junction, Fall River Village, St Andrews Village, it all dumps into that’s et of lights.

“We’re pretty much land-locked,” she said. “We can go out from Windsor Junction to Windgate and Beaver Bank Road, but everyone knows until there are lights at Windgate no one is going there at rush hour in the morning and at supper time.

“We do need to see what can happen and what is the best result,” said Deagle Gammon.

Deagle Gammon is also looking to get a report for a water system for residents in Schwarzwald that needs it. She has heard stories of families needing to decide who can shower, and timing of laundry.

“That’s a bit of a challenge,” she said. ‘I do hope we will get some answers around water expansion.”

There will be some more safety beacons installed throughout the district as well, said Deagle Gammon.

No stopping signs are being made to be installed along the side of the road by Georges P. Vanier Junior High, including in the bike lane.

Deagle Gammon said the transit boundary review, which was to be in 2023, there was some foretelling she saw in the budget books that might see it pushed again. She said getting the transit boundary changed so it includes Fall River is a bit more work then she first thought.

“It’s a much bigger challenge then I first thought,” she said. “They’re saying if we don’t have the density we’re not going to get the transit. That’s what it feels like.”

Transit should be a municipal service and should not be downloaded onto a non-profit like MusGo and other services.

“It’s a lot of work to put on volunteers,” she said. ‘I really hope we don’t have to get there.

“I will continue the advocacy to see transit come from the park and ride down into Fall River. It’s just been more difficult then I thought. It sometimes feels like there’s a stonewall, and you need a chisel.”