Nova Scotia

CBRM looking to combine property development, economic growth

Cape Breton Regional Municipality has issued a tender looking for a consultant to help create a new planning framework for the municipality that combines elements of economic development.

Planning director Michael Ruus says new planning rules need to be tied to economic recovery and growth

Campbell says CBRM is not expected to get an automatic boost in tax revenues next year because the assessment cap is tied to inflation and the rate is currently below zero. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Cape Breton Regional Municipality's planning strategy and associated bylaws are more than 15 years old and it could take two years to modernize them, the municipality's planning director Michael Ruus has said.

"We want to make sure that we do our best to ensure residents understand what these potential changes mean to them in their day-to-day lives and how the municipality functions," he said.

CBRM has issued a tender that closes Oct. 15 looking for a consultant to help guide the review process that is expected to lead to a new planning framework for the municipality.

"We're not trying to rush the process," said Ruus. "We want to take our time and make sure we get it right."

New provincial requirements

The municipality has amended its planning strategy and land-use bylaw over the years, but the planning director said times have changed and CBRM needs to have a new overall vision for how it allows property to be developed in a way that helps the municipality grow.

The Nova Scotia government has also brought in some new minimum planning requirements, so it's the right time to start going through the planning strategy and related bylaws, Ruus said.

Planning director Michael Ruus says last year's viability study recommended a new economic development strategy, so CBRM is tying it in with new property development rules. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The review is expected to start early in 2021.

In addition to reviewing the planning strategy, land-use bylaw, subdivision bylaw and other bylaws, the consultant is also expected to work with the CBRM's regional enterprise network to come up with a complementary economic development strategy that will guide councils and direct property development that grows the local economy, Ruus said.

"One of the key pieces of the viability study was to move forward with the economic development strategy, so that'll be a key piece of this entire project," he said.

Ruus said public input is very important and consultants responding to the tender are being asked to outline how they will bring the public along from the beginning.

"We will be evaluating those plans and trying to choose a team that will help us really engage with our residents within the communities in CBRM to outline that future expectation and vision for the municipality."

Early in 2019, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board struck down CBRM's approval of a proposed RV park near Big Pond, saying council had failed to reasonably protect neighbouring residents from the potential noise and visual impact of the proposed development as required under the municipality's own rules.

The UARB said staff had not properly advised council on the planning rules.

Incidents unrelated

Also last year, the province sent back a new and controversial animal husbandry bylaw, saying the wording needed to be changed to make it enforceable.

Ruus said the proposed review of the planning strategy and bylaws is unrelated.

"Our intent isn't for this to be a reaction to some of those things," he said.

"It's really just trying to be proactive and looking into the future."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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