Un­der­stand­ing the value of plan­ning

In­go­nish con­sid­er­ing land-use plan­ning

The Victoria Standard - - Heritage / Business - CAROLYN BAR­BER

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.

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