Nova Scotia

CBRM gives staff more power over changes to subdivision development

Cape Breton Regional Municipality's planning department can now approve new phases in the Cossitt Heights residential subdivision without having to go to council for a vote.

Planning department can now approve phases in Cossitt Heights without having to go to council for a vote

A stop sign at a street intersection in the foreground with an empty lot behind it and some cohnstruction equipment sitting idle.
Construction stopped in the Cossitt Heights subdivision in Sydney, N.S., several weeks ago after the developer skipped a phase to respond to the market need for more apartments. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Cape Breton regional councillors have voted unanimously to allow a developer in Sydney, N.S., to build the phases of a residential subdivision out of chronological order.

Cossitt Heights Development has been building single-family homes, duplexes and 12-unit apartment blocks in a subdivision off Upper Prince Street.

The first two phase are underway and a few weeks ago, the company began work on Phase 4. But municipal building inspectors shut the work down because building had not yet started in Phase 3.

Cossitt Heights Development president Jim Kehoe said that was hard on his workers.

"There was 10 people home now without paycheques, so it's not the way to do business," he said.

The third phase included more single-family dwellings, but the developer told CBRM council on Tuesday that the market has changed.

A row of new single-family houses is shown, with some having dirt front yards and a couple of for sale signs.
The streets in Cossitt Heights are starting to be lined with singe-family dwellings and duplexes, but the developer says there is a greater need right now for apartment units. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The company said CBRM is now facing a housing crunch and there is greater demand for the apartment blocks and duplexes planned in Phase 4.

Councillors agreed with that and voted to allow staff to decide on the order of construction without having to come back to council for a vote.

Kehoe said that makes more business sense.

"This is great that the councillors approved this and now we can go forward ... and I think this will be the easiest community in Nova Scotia to do business with," he said.

"It's a huge change, because we've been trying to get this for 30 years."

Mayor Amanda McDougall said council understood the need to change the rules.

"Staff didn't have the authority to say, 'OK, you can flip around the stages and work on this phase here instead of this phase.' And so that's exactly what the purpose of today was, to make sure that staff have the authority to work with developers on developing large pieces of land and housing," she said.

Kehoe said work will resume on Phase 4 at Cossitt Heights as soon as CBRM lifts the stop-work order.



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 37 years. He has spent the last 19 covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at

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