Understanding the value of planning
Ingonish considering land-use planning
Aside from good common sense, there is currently nothing stopping someone from building a daycare in a flood zone in Victoria County. Except for the Village of Baddeck, there are no land-use controls in Victoria County.
District # 5 Councillor Larry Dauphinee launched a community discussion in Ingonish on April 25 to gauge interest in creating land-use controls in the area. Dauphinee was joined by Eastern District Planning Commission (EDPC) Director John Bain, and EDPC development/ policy planners Paul Dec and Andrew Jones.
“Our community is changing,” said Dauphinee in his opening remarks to the eight residents in attendance. “We have to realize it’s changing fast. There’s a lot of land being bought up by different people and we have no idea what their plans are. We have a very special way of life down here that we’re quite used to and I would hate to see it disappear.”
EDPC acts as the planning department for the municipalities of Inverness, Richmond, Victoria, and Antigonish and the town of Port Hawkesbury. Right now, anyone wishing to build in Ingonish requires only a building permit from EDPC’S municipal building inspector, David Mackenzie. With landuse controls in place, they would also need a development permit.
Dec emphasized the community-driven nature of land-use planning, relying on the expert knowledge of residents. EDPC’S job is to assist communities through the process – from navigating provincial legislation to establishing and administering zoning documents.
Dec provided an overview of the land-use planning process, which is admittedly a lengthy one.
“It takes debate, and it takes compromise to have a vision for the community. But once that’s in place, it’s clear for everybody what the rules are. As opposed to putting out fires when somebody builds something that everybody agrees is an eyesore. If there is no plan, there is nothing to defend against undesirable development.”
The first step is identifying the issues that are important to the community and what it would like to regulate. Dec offered questions for Ingonish residents to think about.
“Is Ingonish, at the moment, an attractive place for young families to stay? Does it offer affordable housing? What about options for seniors in the community? Are they able to have an independent lifestyle? What about people who lose their driver’s licence? Do they have amenities that they can walk to? Is there a plan for Airbnb? Should we allow them anywhere, or just in certain spots?”
Dec said our current planning practices originated during early European industrialization with the realization that planning impacted public health.
“We started to realize that maybe it’s not a good idea to have a coal plant next door to a residential area.”
Since then, planning has evolved into more than just keeping things apart that do not fit together. Today, we can proactively shape communities, and create a desired “look and feel”.
Dec highlighted the attractive signage design used by Ingonish’s Main Street Café.
“This happened because the owners wanted to have signage that makes motorists that pass through Ingonish notice that this is a community that puts an effort into how things look. It makes it look nice and pleasant.”
Following the April 25 meeting that informed the community how land-use planning works, EDPC remains in dialogue with Councillor Dauphinee about land-use planning opportunities.
To view Baddeck’s General Future Land Use and Planning Strategy, developed in 2009, visit www.victoriacounty.com/ baddeck-and-area-planning. html.