Homes worth close to $1 million — but no city plows

Yacht Haven Lane in Millidgeville is advertised as luxury waterfront living. But there’s one perk you won’t find on this upscale private road.

Residents ask Saint John to redesignate Yacht Haven Lane as a public road

Residents of Yacht Haven Lane are asking the City of Saint John to redesignate their private lane as a public road so they don't have to pay for their own snow clearing. (Julia Wright / CBC)

Yacht Haven Lane, also called the "Moorings of Millidgeville," is advertised as luxury waterfront living — a quiet cul-de-sac with nine "executive homes," private boat moorings and 180-degree views of the Kennebecasis River.

But there's one perk you won't find on this upscale private road: city snow clearing.

Residents of Yacht Haven Lane say that's not fair — especially since with homes assessed from $397,000 on the low end to $1 million on the upper end, residents pay a combined $145,000 in property tax annually.

A sign advertising lots for sale on Yacht Haven Lane, currently a private street. (Julia Wright / CBC)

Currently, residents are responsible for the cost of snow clearing, street lighting, sidewalks and street maintenance.

"We ask [the City of Saint John] to have our street redesignated from a private street to a public street," said resident Graham Taylor in a Dec. 17 presentation to city council.

"That is $1.4 million [in taxes] over 10 years. We live in the city, we work in the city, we support local businesses, and we volunteer in the city. … Every municipality is fighting for every dollar and every new building permit."

"What message does this send to developers, what message does this send to realtors, what message does this send to prospective home buyers?"

Too narrow

Developer Sandy Robertson, who purchased the land in the late 1980s, said he originally planned the subdivision as a public road.

But the street was narrower than the city standard, "even though it was at the end of a dead-end, very narrow street that is narrower than it is," Robertson said.

"I had to agree to go to a private street that would be plowed by me, and in time by the residents of the property," said Robertson.

The Moorings of Millidgeville, or Yacht Haven Lane, is advertised as 'an exclusive, private waterfront residential enclave of fine homes in Saint John with the amenities you expect to find where you will build your top of the line dream home.' (Julia Wright / CBC)

Robertson covered the cost of snow clearing on the street from 2002 to 2018. 

"It was supposed to be transferred to the residents immediately, but I felt it was a [barrier] to selling the lots," he said.

"I figured once there was enough people, it would reduce the cost among the group so that it wouldn't be too onerous."

Robertson declined to say how much it costs to plow the lane annually.

'Very short'

There are about "150 to 200" private roads in the city of Saint John, according to Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary.

"Some of them are just like dirt roads, or almost a pathway into the home," McAlary said. "We don't plow those."

Yacht Haven Lane might be a bit narrow — but not narrow enough to require any special equipment.

The luxury homes on Yacht Haven Road are visible in the distance from the Royal Kennebeccasis Yacht Club, (Julia Wright / CBC)

"It would take about five minutes," McAlary said, noting the city already offers trash collection on Yacht Haven Lane.

"Yacht Haven Lane is in very good shape, and very short. I would say we really should do it, because the people on that street pay taxes the same as everybody else. 

"I have no qualms saying that the city should plow it. I'm sure there are other private streets that we do plow … I think if you want people to live in the city of Saint John, we have to provide service, the best that we can give to them."

City staff are expected to come back with a report in February. 

About the Author

Julia Wright

Julia Wright is a reporter based in Saint John. She has been with the CBC since 2016.