Rarely has there been a community in HRM so charged with emotion. Purcell’s Cove area residents are calling upon Mayor-Elect Mike Savage and the newly elected Council to attend HRM’s upcoming Open House, being held in connection with the proposed extension of water and sewer services to the area.
Monday, October 29
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Captain William Spry Community Centre, Multi-purpose Room
16 Sussex St., Spryfield
The meeting will be hosted by consultants and the Community Steering Committee conducting the Planning and Engineering Feasibility Study: Extension of Central Sewer, Water and Stormwater Systems – Purcell’s Cove. According to an HRM notice on the study’s website, the Open House aims "to discover the Community’s aspirations regarding future growth, in the event that future servicing system alternatives are considered for the Purcell’s Cove area."
The session will include a presentation by the consultants, followed by a workshop. Comments and opinions by property owners and the general public will be recorded for consideration by the Committee. The results "will assist the Community Steering Committee with their mandate of providing advice to staff and the Consultant on matters such as land use and community form, possible servicing system alternatives, and size of potential area(s) to be serviced."
Extension of services would have great significance for future development of the Williams Lake and Purcell's Cove areas. The areas include the Backlands, a natural wilderness corridor comprised of a vast expanse of undisturbed wilderness, lakes, critical wetlands and woodlands.
With grave concerns about the process thus far, citizen groups have asked the City on several occasions to scrap the feasibility study and adhere to its Regional Plan, which has not targeted the Purcell's Cove and Williams Lake areas for growth. The feasibility study was approved more than a year ago and very shortly after its approval, Clayton Developments purchased nearly 400 acres abutting Williams Lake.
Seventy-one per cent of Purcell's Cove area residents are opposed to the extension of central sewer and water services to the area, according to results from two petitions over the summer. Among their many concerns:
the threat of unwanted development;
financial costs that would not be justified by the benefits to resident homeowners;
disruption due to blasting;
major traffic increases through an already overburdened Armdale Roundabout; and
the undermining of the Regional Plan, which for sound fiscal and environmental reasons directs new development to lands within HRM’s existing servicing boundary.
In preparation for its Open House, the Steering Committee recently sent a survey to residents of the affected areas. The questionnaire was problematic: HRM gave citizens less than a week to respond and several questions were phrased to elicit pro-development responses; properties that should not have been included were and others were not. Finally, unique, serialized identifying numbers were not included on each survey to prevent tampering, as promised. As such, citizens cannot have any confidence in the results of this survey.
It is crucial for the new Mayor and Council to become familiar with the troubling history of this process. This issue goes far beyond the Purcell's Cove and Williams Lake areas, impacting all HRM residents who commute through the Armdale Roundabout or enjoy swimming, canoeing and fishing in Williams Lake and using the extensive network of biking and hiking trails throughout the Backlands.
This Open House will be an event that will be unprecedented. You must attend to believe it.
For further information or interviews, please contact:
Purcells Cove Area 1 Residents' Action Committee
Follow this issue and find more background via the following Facebook pages:
And these websites:
Purcell's Cove (Area 2) Neighbourhood Committee: www.pcnc.chebucto.org
William's Lake Conservation Company: www.williamslakecc.org/
HRM Website for Planning and Engineering Feasibility Study: Extension of Central Sewer, Water and Stormwater Systems, Purcell’s Cove: http://www.halifax.ca/planhrm/PurcellsCoveServicingStudy.html