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My neighbourhood for a horse! Equestrian community proposed for Ebenezer

One Island developer has a dream of creating a residential equestrian community on P.E.I.

Proposed development in central P.E.I. would have 13 three-acre mini-farms with small barns, pastures

The proposed development spans 220 acres of land in Ebenezer, P.E.I., and will maintain designated areas for agricultural use, said Gordie Kirkpatrick. (Submitted by Gordie Kirkpatrick)

One Island developer has a vision of creating a residential equestrian community on P.E.I.

The proposed MapleRidge Equestrian Community would see the construction of 13 three-acre mini-farms along with a number of equestrian-themed amenities, said Gordie Kirkpatrick, who is heading the proposed development. 

Gordie Kirkpatrick said his family has been dreaming of building an equestrian community for over a decade. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The community can be compared to residential communities on golf courses, Kirkpatrick explained, where a group of people with shared interests live in a neighbourhood that reflect those interests, he added.

"It's a tight-knit community of people who are, you know, cohesive and have the same wishes," Kirkpatrick said. "That's what we're looking for here too, we're looking to have a tight-knit community. We already have boarders at our current place and a great group of people and we look to continue to have that as we grow."  

Equestrian amenities

He said each lot will be large enough for a house, a small barn and pasture for one or two horses. The development would also include amenities for everyone, such as indoor and outdoor riding arenas, a cross-country equestrian track, communal pastures as well as indoor stables.

"If you wanted to move here and didn't want to have your own barn you could stable at our facility," Kirkpatrick explained.

Kirkpatrick said each mini-farm lot would have enough space for a house, a small barn and pasture for one or two horses. (Submitted by Gordie Kirkpatrick)

He said the proposed stables will also offer riding lessons and boarding services. All the amenities on the property will be managed by MapleRidge, a company owned by the Kirkpatrick family, he added.

The community would also create over 12 kilometres of riding and walking trails throughout the 220-acre property. 

'Phased project'

The development of the community will be done in phases over a four-year period, Kirkpatrick said, with the goal of building three or four homes per year once the project is fully approved.

Kirkpatrick said he has submitted a change of use application to the Department of Communities, Land and Environment to change the use of the agricultural land to use for the mini-farm lots. 

The proposed community would include indoor and outdoor riding areas, a cross-country equestrian course and more than 12 kilometres of public walking trails. (Submitted by Gordie Kirkpatrick)

Spencer Matheson, junior provincial planner for P.E.I., said the change of use application is one of many steps Kirkpatrick will have to take before he can break ground on the residential portion of the project. 

"Change of use still has to be approved," Matheson said. "Then the subdivision still would have to be reviewed and approved and then the development applications for each of the properties have to be submitted, reviewed and approved before you start seeing houses or anything like that on the property."

Public meetings 

Kirkpatrick said there have been two public meetings to inform the community about the proposed development and get feedback.

The original development proposal included 20 two-acre lots, Kirkpatrick said. However, after a public meeting in June called by community members in Ebenezer, the plans were changed to address concerns about the number of houses the development would include, he added.

Dewer and Victoria MacLeod, who live near the proposed development, said they are concerned about the loss of agricultural land and farming opportunities for people in the community. 

Victoria and Dewar MacLeod own a dairy farm near the proposed development property. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Victoria MacLeod said she and her husband attended the public meetings and are not against the proposed horse farming. Their main concern is that once houses are built on the land it can no longer be used for agricultural purposes.

"We don't want to see a subdivision built on farmland used for food," Dewer MacLeod said. "Once one house goes up, and 10 houses go up then down the road, it could be a lot more."

Agricultural use

Kirkpatrick said the mini-farms will comprise 39 acres of the property. 

"I contend that even the mini-farm lots are agriculture because we're horse-farming," Kirkpatrick said. "We certainly feel that it's still keeping with the agricultural theme."

Some people in the community are concerned about how the development could reduce opportunities for local farms to expand. (Brittany Spencer/CBC )

Kirkpatrick already owns a home and horse stable next to the proposed development.

Construction of the new indoor stables and riding arena, next to his current operation, have already begun and Kirkpatrick said it is set to be open and operational within the next few weeks.

"We like to think this is a good thing for P.E.I., a good thing for Ebenezer and really feel strongly and passionately that it is."

About the Author

Brittany Spencer

Reporter

Brittany Spencer is a reporter with CBC P.E.I.