Group prompts Annapolis County to look at area zoning Canada’s oldest road
Wayne Currie went to the municipality Sept. 12 with a request to protect Canada’s oldest stretch of road – 15 rural kilometres that goes from Champlain’s 1605 Habitation site in Port Royal to the causeway at Granville Ferry.
He ended up with council directing staff to organize a public meeting so councillors can talk with residents to discuss land use planning and to obtain public views and preferences.
Most of Annapolis County is without zoning except for a part of the east end and Cornwallis Park.
The meeting is for citizens of districts 4 and 5 and will be held Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lower Granville Hall.
On Sept. 13 Currie, who heads up the Granville Road Ratepayers Association, thanked the county for passing the motion.
“We would like to make a presentation at that meeting for zoning one section of the Granville Road from Highway 1 to the Port Royal National Historic Site/ Lighthouse opposite Goat Island,” he said in a letter to the county.
“This is an important historic and cultural area of Canada and needs to be protected,” he said after hearing council’s meeting plan. “However we are delighted that our presentation to council has resulted in any motion that
moves forward on this issue and that it is the beginning of an important conversation.”
Currie began a scheduled presentation before council’s committee of the whole meeting just before noon Sept. 12, pointing out that recent community concern that a fish hatchery might be built on Granville Road would have been a non issue if municipal zoning had been in place.
But that’s as far as Currie’s planned presentation got. County CAO John Ferguson interrupted to point out to Currie, and a group of 50 or so supporters, that to bring zoning to the area, there
is a process that must be followed. He said council is not allowed to hear a position without allowing everybody in the community to be heard at the same time.
He said if the zoning process goes ahead, area advisory committees would have to be set up. If Currie or members of the ratepayers group wanted to be members of those committees, they can’t have their minds made up before they go on those committees.
“The only way this process gets appealed is when that process isn’t followed,” Ferguson said, cautioning them on any particular positions they might share as a group during the presentation. “I would focus your comments on
asking if we would consider moving the zoning process forward, for those area advisory committees to be set up, and the full community engagement process take place – because the only way it gets approved is this council does it.”
Currie asked that the process be started.
“Land use planning has not been popular in Annapolis County – ever,” said Councillor Marilyn Wilkins during the meeting. “The only reason it was successful in the east end of Annapolis County was because it was driven by the citizens, as the citizens are in this room today. But it’s being driven by self-interest at this point. Your properties are being threatened by something. Land use planning is successful when people know and agree and plan what they want their communities to look like in the future. It’s not by reacting to something.”
She said she’s a land use planning advocate but warned it can’t be based on emotion, it has to be based on common sense,
“And common sense is, if this is going to be successful in your area, and I do believe it will be because you’ve been threatened by an organization you didn’t want in your community, you have to go back and you have to involve all the community, not just the ratepayers association,” she said. “You will fail if you do not go back and have public meetings throughout the entire area and figure out what you need to do.”
The issue of land use planning was put on the agenda for the end of the day and it was Wilkins who proposed the motion to have staff start the process.
The Granville Road Ratepayers Association sought support of 360 people in what they have termed the Special Places District. They heard back from 152 people, all of whom were supportive of their efforts except one person. The association itself is made up of 20 families with 47 members.
Annapolis County CAO John Ferguson explains the process the county and residents would have to go through to achieve land use planning in the Granville Road area.