Halifax regional council rejected an amendment to a proposed Fall River development at a public hearing on Tuesday. The amendment was defeated with a tie vote, to cheers and applause from those in the audience.
The development amendment would have removed the requirement for a connecting road from Ingram Drive to Cobequid Road to develop land at the end of Ingram Drive beside the CN rail tracks.
Shayne Vipond, the senior planner for Halifax Regional Municipality, presented the amendment to council and recommended approval. Vipond described this amendment as “housekeeping” that would remove two lines from the proposal. But he suggested the change was bigger than just a simple amendment.
“If we can’t go forward with this, nothing can be built” on the site, he said to council on Tuesday night.
KWR Approvals Inc., representing Perry Lane Developments, applied to remove the requirement from the development agreement. This would allow the developer to build on the land at the end of Ingram Drive without an alternative access road. In addition, without the approval of the amendment, the land remains undevelopable because CN Rail will not allow a road to go over its tracks due to safety concerns.
Perry Lane Developments wants to build three three-storey apartment buildings on the land at the end of Ingram Drive, which would house 120 families.
This wasn’t the first meeting on the proposal. It was rejected in a North West community council meeting because of the access requirement and CN Rail’s rejection of the proposal. The developer is appealing that decision before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
At the meeting, deputy mayor and District 13 Coun. Pam Lovelace assured Larry Gibson, owner of Perry Lane Developments, that council is open to reviewing a new development plan for the area.
Many Fall River residents attended the hearing, and audience seating in the council room was reserved for speakers only. Observers were put in an overflow room to watch the proceedings. Residents were worried about safety, traffic, and housing if the amendment passed.
“Fall River residents aren’t against development, but are pro-development,” said Mary McDaid, who has lived in the area for 29 years, “[but] this [development] will create an even more car-dependent community than it already is.”
McDaid was echoed by many other residents. One speaker who agreed was Dan Knowles, who moved to Fall River because there is more space between houses.
“We don’t want more housing down a very narrow road at the end of the village,” Knowles told council.
Others spoke about how dangerous Ingram Drive can be. Ellen Hatt, a lifelong resident and university student, said she had many friends drive off the road because it is so steep with tight turns. Adding more cars to this road would make it more dangerous, said both Hatt and Knowles.
The area’s councillor, Cathy Deagle Gammon, was also opposed. “I think the community spoke very well as to why the amendment should be shut down,” she told council.
“Let’s get it right. Just because there are other places that don’t have sidewalks and don’t have shoulders does that mean this is OK? Do we replicate the mistakes that we already know have happened in communities? That does not make sense to me at all.”
Deagle Gammon said she was disappointed by her colleagues’ comments. Half supported the amendment, saying similar developments have been successful in their districts.
District 2 Coun. David Hendsbee, who backed the amendment, said in the meeting that he didn’t see traffic being improved by the connection to Cobequid Road, and any traffic concerns should be handled at a neighbourhood level and shouldn’t impact development.
“As it stands now, I believe that the proposal should go forward. We talked about the need for housing, especially for multiple generational housing for seniors, so that I think this is an appropriate place for it,” he said.
In an interview on Wednesday, Deagle Gammon added that there are better development opportunities in Fall River along the main road rather than at the end of a subdivision.
Tuesday night’s public hearing followed a presentation by John Lohr, the minister of municipal affairs and housing. In his presentation to council, he said that council isn’t doing enough for developments and housing. Lohr said the city needs to allow more construction to combat the housing crisis.
His remarks weren’t lost on councillors during the hearing.
District 8 Coun. Lindell Smith acknowledged Lohr’s comments and clarified that council does want more development and housing.
About the author
Angela Capobianco (she/her) is a Halifax-born journalist. She has a Master's degree in history from Queen's University and hopes to use her skills...