Re­vers­ing re­zon­ing de­ci­sion not an op­tion, says mayor

Sackville Tribune - - COVER STORY - BY KATIE TOWER

SACKVILLE TRI­BUNE- POST

Sackville Mayor John Higham says the gen­eral lo­ca­tion of a new am­bu­lance sta­tion was pre-de­ter­mined and the town had no role in as­sess­ing or de­cid­ing on the sites that were iden­ti­fied.

Higham said ANB is­sued a ten­der for a new fa­cil­ity back in 2017, which in­cluded spe­cific cri­te­ria and ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tions that would pro­vide ef­fi­cient ac­cess to the high­way as well as sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties. He notes ANB – as well as the de­vel­oper of the fa­cil­ity Par­sons In­vest­ment – was pro­vided with all the in­for­ma­tion on “cur­rent con­di­tions and fac­tors” of the prop­erty dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tive process.

“At the end of the day, man­age­ment of their risk as­sess­ment and the de­ci­sion to pro­ceed is en­tirely up to them,” Higham writes in his re­sponse to Di­etz’s let­ter.

He says re­zon­ing for the prop­erty was ap­proved by coun­cil last spring.

“With the re­zon­ing process com­plete and new fa­cil­ity un­der con­struc­tion, re­vers­ing the de­ci­sion to lo­cate the fa­cil­ity from the present po­si­tion is no longer an op­tion.”

Higham points out that, as a mu­nic­i­pal­ity, the town man­ages risk as best it can, given the po­ten­tial li­a­bil­ity is­sues. He ex­plains that, in the event of a 1-in-100year storm be­ing fore­cast, the town plans ahead for where its as­sets can best be sit­u­ated.

“Sim­i­larly, I sus­pect Am­bu­lance New Brunswick will mo­bi­lize their re­sources to be able to con­tinue to de­liver ser­vices to com­mu­ni­ties.”

Coun. Bill Evans, who raised sim­i­lar con­cerns about flood­ing at last year’s pub­lic hear­ing dur­ing the re­zon­ing process, says he too thought it was a “bad idea” to con­struct a fa­cil­ity in that lo­ca­tion due to the risk of “is­land­ing.” But he was as­sured by town plan­ning staff that both the de­vel­oper and ANB were made aware of the po­ten­tial risks and, from there, the de­ci­sion was up to them.

“We don’t get to say no to things just be­cause we think it’s a bad idea,” says Evans.

He says cur­rently the town has no re­stric­tions on de­vel­op­ing in a flood zone, other than hav­ing to raise the height of doors and win­dows to higher-than-flood­plain level and not al­low­ing base­ments in new de­vel­op­ments. So there was noth­ing con­tro­ver­sial about ap­prov­ing a re­zon­ing on that prop­erty from com­mer­cial to in­sti­tu­tional last year, says Evans.

Flood-risk zon­ing by­law out­dated

Di­etz says the town is cur­rently work­ing un­der a flood-risk zon­ing by­law that is out­dated, how­ever, which does not al­low de­vel­op­ers or plan­ners to ad­e­quately as­sess the risks as­so­ci­ated with the pos­si­ble im­pacts from coastal flood­ing.

She urges coun­cil to up­date its zon­ing by­law and as­so­ci­ated reg­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing adopt­ing a new flood-risk map, and start to con­sider plac­ing stronger de­vel­op­ment re­stric­tions on that zone.

“No you don’t have to to­tally stop de­vel­op­ment . . . but if you want to de­velop that area, you should re­ally look at the kind of de­vel­op­ment you’re con­sid­er­ing; so that if it does get flooded, it’s not such a ter­ri­ble thing.”

The pro­posed de­sign for the Exit 506 area that was de­vel­oped just last year calls for new parks, walk­ing trails, bi­cy­cle lanes, streetscape im­prove­ments, as well as the po­ten­tial for new com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment. Di­etz says while the town could still move for­ward on the parks and trail com­po­nents, she would sug­gest any new apart­ments or busi­nesses should not be go­ing up in that area.

Di­etz, who has as­sisted with re­gional flood-risk map­ping over the years and has served as a cli­mate change adap­ta­tion spe­cial­ist for the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, the re­gional ser­vices com­mis­sion and nu­mer­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties on var­i­ous projects re­lated to re­duc­ing risks, says the com­mu­nity needs to have greater dis­cus­sion on the topic.

Higham says the town has re­cently asked the South­east Re­gional Ser­vice Com­mis­sion to re­view the lat­est LIDAR data and, if needed, to pro­pose any changes to the hy­dro­graphic zone, with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the area cov­ered by the Exit 506 plan.

“Pend­ing the re­sults of this anal­y­sis, coun­cil may want to fur­ther eval­u­ate our ex­ist­ing mu­nic­i­pal plan and zon­ing by­law – both in terms of map­ping and de­vel­op­ment re­quire­ments/re­stric­tions.”

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