Community ‘defenders’ trying to preserve nature, stop apartment development in Spryfield
Rezoning of land will harm watershed and nearby wildlife, says resident
February 8, 2021, 10:28 am ASTLast Updated: February 8, 2021, 10:28 am
A group called the Spryfield Defenders is trying to protect a small stream and pond from a proposed development across from Long Lake Provincial Park.
Members want to stop the city from rezoning nearby land, 48 and 50 Old Sambro Road, for the construction of an apartment building.
“This particular site should be a green space. It should be preserved because even though it’s a tiny, tiny little speck of the watershed, it’s very important,” said Dana Oakley, who started the group and who lives in the area.
A small, unnamed stream runs from Long Lake, across the road and into Catamaran Pond. The W.M. Fares Group, a property management company, wants to build a 13-unit, four-storey apartment building with an underground parking garage a couple of lots over from the stream.
Oakley said the development proposal doesn’t show how this change would affect the watershed. Catamaran Pond runs into the larger Colpitt Lake and Williams Lake, so if water becomes stagnant in the pond or gets polluted, the surrounding wetlands area would be affected.
Oakley also said it’s an important corridor for wildlife, like deer, muskrats and birds. She’s worried that with development and changes to the waterway, it’ll no longer be a “quiet safe space” for animals.
“It just needs to be left alone,” she said.
She started a petition to try to preserve the space. Instead of the development, she’s hoping the property will become an extension of the protected Long Lake area across the road.
Not a protected area
Jennifer Chapman, a planner with the city, said that if the stream was considered an area of ecological importance in the city’s 2018 Green Network Plan, there would be more done to protect it. That plan lays out strategies to promote long-term sustainability and an interconnected open space system.
Catamaran Pond is considered an area of “high environmental value overlap,” according to the plan, so development within that area would have to take a “cautious approach” to reduce any harmful effects to the ecological integrity of the area.
But the connecting waterway from Long Lake to the pond was deemed to have minimal value.
“This isn’t one of those areas, so we wouldn’t really be looking at anything like that. We’d just be reviewing [the proposal] against the existing policy,” said Chapman.
The only consideration regarding the stream is how far back to put the building. Any development near a water course needs to be 20 metres back, and because of a steep slope in this case, the requirement is 25 metres.
The project is currently in the public engagement phase: community members can submit their feedback to be considered in a staff recommendation that will go to Halifax and West community council for a public hearing.
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