Dear Mr. Mayor and members of the Central Community Council,
I am unable to attend the public consultation tonight, and am writing to urge you to not approve the development for the Tantallon Crossroads, as currently proposed by Genivar and Cobalt.
I know that the Saint Margaret’s Bay Chamber of Commerce, Stewardship Association, and SMB Tourism have written to you on this issue, and I substantially agree with their points. In order to avoid repetition, I will briefly sum up my concerns, as a 15-year resident of Glen Margaret.
1) Over the last few years, various community groups, with the cooperation of HRM, have held public consultations and visioning sessions to develop a proposal for the character of the Upper Tantallon Crossroads. These sessions were well-attended, and produced a cohesive set of guidelines that would encourage appropriate development, maintain the coastal character of the community, and enhance the area as a tourism destination. The result of these sessions was a series of proposed by-law amendments that have yet to be adopted. Under the proposed amendments, the development under consideration would not be acceptable (much in the way that Skye Halifax was not acceptable under HRM By Design — and Council made the correct decision in not proceeding with it). The Genivar-Cobalt proposal is only under consideration because, for whatever reason, nearly two years after the by-law amendments were proposed, they have yet to be adopted. The proposed by-laws should first be adopted, and Council should then consider development proposals that are consistent with them.
2) Given that the proposed by-laws were the result of an inclusive community process, one hopes they will eventually be adopted. However, approval of this proposed development will effectively gut the vision of the Crossroads and make the amended by-laws almost irrelevant. This would be an essentially anti-democratic process.
3) Councillor Whitman has written to me that the proposed development goes against the wishes of only some local residents. I talk to a lot of people and have yet to find anyone enthusiastic about the further strip-malling of our community. Nobody is calling for more drive-thrus, as far as I can tell. Many of us have chosen to live here because of the unique character of the place, and this proposal is an attack on that unique nature.
4) Both the Chamber of Commerce and the Stewardship Association are united in their opposition to the proposed development. The fact that business interests and environmentalists are working hand-in-hand to oppose the development speaks to a broad consensus.
5) Finally, if it goes ahead, the development will strike a serious blow to active transportation and the creation of a pedestrian-friendly community. The Crossroads has the potential to be a pedestrian-friendly community, but this proposal will greatly hinder any hopes of that becoming a reality. As it stands, pedestrian and cycling links are poor — which is particularly sad if one considers the proximity of the old rail line. Try going to Otis and Clementine’s for a coffee and then making your way to the Superstore for groceries. Even though these businesses are in physical proximity, the experience is not one you will want to repeat — particularly in winter. We need to develop active transportation routes within the community, not build more drive-thrus.
Given these factors, as well as those raised by others who have written to you, I strongly urge you to not approve the development as it now stands.