Nova Scotia

Minister rejects Kings County farmland rezoning

An application to rezone 153 acres of farmland in Kings County, N.S., to allow development is turned down.

An application to rezone 153 acres of farmland in Kings County, N.S., to allow development has been turned down.

In a release, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell announced his decision to turn down the municipality's application to rezone the agricultural land between Greenwich and Wolfville from agricultural to residential and commercial.

The release said the application was rejected because MacDonnell was not satisfied that the municipality had a pressing need to develop the protected agricultural land.

"While I am satisfied by the municipality's explanation that they would do all that was necessary to protect the Town of Wolfville's drinking water supply, there was no demonstrated pressing need for development of this protected agricultural land," MacDonell said in a news release on Wednesday.

The proposal had sparked opposition, including an online petition from the group No Farms, No Food. The group said it would contemplate legal action if the province approved the re-zoning.

News that the proposal was turned down was welcomed by Tom Cosman, the owner of Cosman and Whidden Honey Limited and a resident who had been opposing the rezoning.

"We're absolutely delighted," he told CBC News.

"I think it was a wise decision that's protected land that has been feeding families and employing people for 330 years in Kings County."

Municipalities are required to preserve valuable farmland where reasonable. Last month, Kings County councillors voted six to five in favour of rezoning — a decision that was received with a chorus of boos from opponents of the plan.

Peter Elderkin was one of five farmers who had requested the rezoning and had argued that the number of farmers willing to try to make a living off the Annapolis Valley's fertile agricultural land is dwindling.

On Wednesday, he said people are happy the process has concluded, even though he's not happy about the provincial government's decision.

"We've been sitting on pins and needles for the last few weeks just waiting for the minister's decision. I'm not happy with the decision. I'm concerned about it," Elderkin said Wednesday.

"We've never had to survive without being able to change and that's going to be a very big learning curve for every farmer."

Elderkin said he will not appeal the decision.

MacDonell said the province will consider any future applications from municipalities for rezoning as long as the application clearly demonstrates the need for the additional land.