Hot-but­ton is­sues

Va­ri­ety of mu­nic­i­pal top­ics dis­cussed dur­ing all-can­di­dates’ de­bate

Sackville Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATIE TOWER

From her­itage by­laws to driv­ethru bans, and global warm­ing to the hir­ing of con­sul­tants, the five con­tenders vy­ing for a seat on Sackville town coun­cil in the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal by­elec­tion had plenty to dis­cuss.

The group, who are look­ing to fill the coun­cil seat left empty last month when Me­gan Mit­ton stepped down to serve as the re­gion’s MLA, faced vot­ers at an all­can­di­dates’ fo­rum Nov. 28.

A crowd of more than 100 res­i­dents packed the up­per lobby at the Tantra­mar civic cen­tre to hear from them.

The five can­di­dates – Sabine Di­etz, Ju­lia Feltham, Shawn Mesheau, Brian Neil­son, and Dy­lan Woo­ley-berry – bring a di­verse range of ac­com­plish­ments to the ta­ble, a fact not lost on any of them.

“Each one of us has some­thing to of­fer all of us,” said Neil­son.

Should Sackville re­think its de­ci­sion on a drive-thru ban?

Sackville’s drive-thru ban, a long­stand­ing and con­tentious is­sue in the com­mu­nity, brought dif­fer­ing views from the can­di­dates.

Mesheau said he would be in sup­port of al­low­ing more driv­ethrus in the high­way com­mer­cial zone, if it is done in a “com­mon­sense way,” and Feltham said she would per­haps con­sider the idea for the high­way com­mer­cial area at Exit 506, but not at the more con­gested Exit 504.

Mesheau was a mem­ber of coun­cil in 2001 when the town first banned ad­di­tional driv­ethrus and said it was mainly as a re­sult of traf­fic con­ges­tion around the ones at Exit 504.

“We have busi­nesses look­ing to ex­pand and of­fer a ser­vice, and they’re look­ing to do that so that they can stay in busi­ness and be able to em­ploy more folks,” he said.

Mesheau ac­knowl­edged the need to ad­dress en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns but stated “idling will still hap­pen” whether there’s ad­di­tional drive-thrus or not.

Feltham, while also con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of al­low­ing more drive-thrus in Sackville and idling in gen­eral, said she would be open, how­ever, to a pro­posal if it showed it could mit­i­gate those risks.

“I don’t want to see more driv­ethrus at Exit 504 but I am open to devel­op­ment at Exit 506 pos­si­bly,” she said.

The other three can­di­dates said the en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, as well as the flood risk in the Exit 506 in­ter­change area, would pre­vent them from bring­ing that is­sue back to the ta­ble.

Woo­ley-berry said his worry would be around the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects of idling cars, es­pe­cially near the Bridge Street day care.

He said he doesn’t feel the town’s pri­or­i­ties should be on the devel­op­ment of a com­mer­cial/ res­i­den­tial area at the Exit 506 in­ter­change, with the pos­si­bil­ity of new drive-thrus, rather the fo­cus should be on the down­town core.

“There’s ex­ist­ing busi­nesses there that need town coun­cil sup­port and I think that’s where we should tar­get when we’re talk­ing about devel­op­ment in Sackville,” he said, adding one of his main goals would be to bring free pub­lic wifi to down­town Sackville dur­ing his term.

Neil­son dis­agreed with Woo­leyBerry, say­ing he’d like to see the town fur­ther its pro­posed plans to de­velop the Exit 506 area and make it a des­ti­na­tion “...and to ac­tu­ally have peo­ple get out of their cars, walk along the train bridge and walk along the dykes. To get a sense of this place.”

He said devel­op­ment of that area would en­cour­age vis­i­tors to stop and en­joy recre­ational and cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties in the com­mu­nity as well as the shops and res­tau­rants.

Di­etz said her big­gest con­cern is around the flood risk around Exit 506. She said re­cent de­vel­op­ments, such as the new am­bu­lance build­ing, should never have been al­lowed to hap­pen in what she terms a flood risk zone.

“We have busi­nesses look­ing to ex­pand and of­fer a ser­vice, and they’re look­ing to do that so that they can stay in busi­ness and be able to em­ploy more folks.”

Shawn Mesheau

If a one-in-50 or a one-in-100year storm hap­pens, it would cut off the whole area.

“If I look at the flood-risk maps and I look at the 506 in­ter­change in the Cat­tail Ridge area, then you, at this time, can­not de­velop that area.”

She sug­gested be­fore al­low­ing any fur­ther devel­op­ment, that coun­cil up­date its flood risk maps and start think­ing “more long term and more strate­gi­cally.”

Does the town need a her­itage by­law?

An­other ques­tion pro­posed to can­di­dates was whether they feel the cur­rent coun­cil was right in its de­ci­sion to re­peal Sackville’s her­itage by­law sev­eral months ago or leg­is­la­tion is still needed to help pre­serve her­itage, par­tic­u­larly in the down­town.

The can­di­dates all tended to agree with the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to re­scind the pre­vi­ous by­law, as they felt it was chal­leng­ing to en­act it with­out putting un­rea­son­able de­mands on prop­erty own­ers within the her­itage con­ser­va­tion ar­eas.

“From my un­der­stand­ing, the by­law wasn’t do­ing what it was in­tended,” said Woo­ley-berry.

He said any new leg­is­la­tion would have to con­sider a bal­ance of new devel­op­ment with pre­serv­ing the his­toric na­ture of the down­town core. To do that, he be­lieves com­mu­nity out­reach would be in or­der to “fig­ure out the best way for­ward.”

Di­etz some­what agreed, not­ing com­mu­nity en­gage­ment would be es­sen­tial in putting a new by­law to­gether, as ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent take on her­itage “ap­pear­ance.”

Mesheau said the pre­vi­ous by­law seemed to be too oner­ous on prop­erty own­ers, and there needs to be other op­tions for them to al­ter the ap­pear­ance of their homes or busi­nesses with­out the bur­den of ex­or­bi­tant costs.

“We’d have to take a look at what makes the best sense for our down­town,” he said. “Are we look­ing to pro­tect ap­pear­ance or are we look­ing to pro­tect her­itage?”

Feltham and Neil­son also noted there should be a bet­ter bal­ance of pro­tect­ing her­itage and the ex­pec­ta­tions of prop­erty own­ers. Sup­port for per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion for farm­ers’ mar­ket? Garth Zwicker, the new man­ager of the Sackville Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, asked whether the can­di­dates would sup­port a per­ma­nent and con­sis­tent lo­ca­tion for the mar­ket. While the mar­ket is housed at Bill John­stone Memo­rial Park dur­ing the late spring and sum­mer months, the rest of the year it is held at the Sackville Com­mons, a much smaller space that doesn’t al­low for growth; in fact, the num­ber of ven­dors is re­duced by 40 per cent dur­ing the win­ter months.

Neil­son said he en­vi­sions the farm­ers’ mar­ket find­ing a new home within the space be­ing pro­posed by Sackville Schools 2020 – a com­mu­nity learn­ing cam­pus that would see ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties be­ing shared with lo­cal ser­vice groups in Sackville.

He said while he doesn’t think it’s “re­al­is­tic to have a sin­gle build­ing for a sin­gle vi­sion,” he imag­ines the mar­ket in a larger fa­cil­ity with much more space.

Feltham, co- founder of the Sackville Com­mons, agreed the win­ter lo­ca­tion is sim­ply too small for po­ten­tial growth of the farm­ers’ mar­ket, which she ac­knowl­edges is “one of the best in­cu­ba­tors for new busi­ness” in to­day’s econ­omy.

“It’s def­i­nitely some­thing we should ear­mark as im­por­tant,” she said.

She would sup­port the mar­ket in its re­quest for a new lo­ca­tion but agreed with Neil­son that any new pro­posed site should be a multi-use space.

Woo­ley- Berry, a fre­quent cus­tomer at the mar­ket, said the Satur­day morn­ing farm­ers’ mar­ket are an “in­te­gral” part of Sackville’s qual­ity of life and would do what he could to sup­port it if elected.

“I def­i­nitely think there’s a role for the town to play there.”

Di­etz said mar­kets are cen­tral in bring­ing com­mu­ni­ties to­gether and said she would con­sider a pro­posal for a new lo­ca­tion but would have to look at whether it was fi­nan­cially fea­si­ble.

“It’s an es­sen­tial piece of our com­mu­nity,” she said, not­ing that also would pic­ture the mar­ket be­ing in­te­grated into a larger fa­cil­ity such as the one pro­posed by Sackville Schools 2020.

Mesheau said he en­joys the mar­ket in the park dur­ing the sum­mer months and sug­gested per­haps the Sackville Com­mons lo­ca­tion could be ex­panded to al­low for more po­ten­tial growth in the win­ter months.

“I think where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said, not­ing it could be done with com­mu­nity sup­port and back­ing by coun­cil.

“We’d have to take a look at what makes the best sense for our down­town, are we look­ing to pro­tect ap­pear­ance or are we look­ing to pro­tect her­itage?”

Shawn Mesheau


Can­di­date Sabine Di­etz gives her open­ing state­ment at the all-can­di­dates’ de­bate at the Tantra­mar civic cen­tre while fel­low con­tenders, from left, Brian Neil­son, Ju­lia Feltham, Dy­lan Woo­ley-berry and Shawn Mesheau look on. The five Sackville res­i­dents are vy­ing for a seat on town coun­cil in the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal by­elec­tion.

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