Highland Park Ratepayers Association

Highland Park, Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia


2023 Virtual AGM

Our Annual General Meeting takes place in the spring of each year and community participation is always encouraged and welcomed. It is your opportunity to meet the volunteers of the Highland Park Ratepayers Association, and discuss any community related topic in a respectful and open environment. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to contact us anytime.

2023 Highland Park RA AGM Meeting Minutes
March 22, 2023

Welcome, purpose, and introductions

Marion Gillespie opened the meeting with a welcome and introduced Tricia Murray-d’Eon as the new Chair of the Highland Park RA (hereafter, the RA).

An overview of the purpose of the RA was given. Namely, the RA brings together members of Highland Park to promote community and betterment, and to advance community development. The specific goals and roles are to continue to improve the subdivision, represent residents at council meetings, and provide support of projects within the neighbourhood.

Marion introduced the new team members. Owen Crowe will fill the Community Events position, Roxanne Gillett will be taking over as the secretary, and Krista Hilchey and Craig Ross will be taking over as the new directors.

Marion indicated that new volunteers are always welcome, and to reach out if interested.

Current/Ongoing Projects Review and Progress Update

Updates were provided for current and ongoing projects within Highland Park. Marion updated the group on the status of the second exit that is earmarked on a piece of property on the Chalamont side of Hammonds Plains Rd, which has been designated to allow for a second exit for the subdivision. The province has given over a plot of land to the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM_ which will join Sylvania to create another exit to Hammonds Plains Road, meeting up with Rockcliffe.

Pamela Lovelace expanded on the update on the status of the second exit. Pamela went over the history of the land ownership/usage. The quick claim deed has been initiated by the province, and once HRM owns the road they will have permission to go ahead with this project. ­­It is in the budget for 2025/26.

Marion asked Pamela to clarify what the small piece of land that was clear-cut. Pamela clarified that it was clear-cut to build a church. She also indicated that the cul-de-sac at the end of Pinetree (on the Tantallon side) is some provincial land and there is interest from the province to put in housing in that lot. The first 20 to 30 acres would be a mixed housing/commercial use and would transfer from provincial to municipal zoning.

Tricia Murray-d’Eon gave an update on the Timberlane Terrace Park. The park has required little maintenance so far this year. Ongoing maintenance will continue on trails as needed. Fallen trees/brush beside the trail can be taken by residents using hand-tools, but no commercial vehicles. Last year, the possibility of making secondary rustic footpaths in areas not alongside homeowners’ property was discussed. It is at the stage where a rough draft for a possible trail from an HRM trail expert has been presented. A cost estimate is not available at this time. More formal information will be presented to the residents when available.

Tricia gave an update on community improvement events including the community yard sales and community clean-up. The community yard-sales are done twice a year and are tried to be timed with HRMs curbside give-away weekends. June 3rd and 4th is the next give-away weekend. A poll will be set-up this spring to determine what weekend the yard sale should occur. The community clean-up will occur in April and the hope is to coincide with Earth Day (April 22nd/23rd). In past years, this has occurred early Sunday mornings. This year the timing may be changed to mid-late afternoon or early evening to try to get more children/parents participating as there has been limited turn-out in past years. More information will follow when available.

Future Projects

Marion introduced the concept of the Everwood and Eider drive extension. The province and HRM has a proposal to connect Eider Drive (exit 4 of the 103) with Everwood Ave. However, Pamela clarified that there is no formal proposal to connect Everwood to Eider, but to connect Eider to Sussex (in Haliburton Heights) to Eider. Pamela posted a report in the chat containing a map of the approved plan (https://cdn.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/180306rc1413.pdf). The contractor has currently extended Everwood. The parkland dedication on Everwood Ave has been accepted by HRM. There will be four pieces of land (HRM Everwood Avenue Park, and HRM unnamed park, and two parcels of land that are right of ways: https://www.halifax.ca/home/maps/explorehrm). The HRM Everwood Ave Park butts against the Provincial wilderness area and the nature trust wildlife corridor.

A community member asked when the finalized park location was established. Pamila clarified that the park location was established through the subdivision negotiations between HRM and the developer. The parkland dedication documentation came through a week and a half ago for HRM to formally assume ownership of that land.

A community member asked about the former minister sill trail that sits adjacent to the Everwood Parkland. The developer had cleared part of the area that they own and has blocked access (close to Camp Hill Lake). Pamela indicated is the developers land and HRM can not tell them how to use their property.

Tricia asked Pamela if she could send us information on the establishment of the park as it is part of the Highland Park subdivision. Pamela indicated that it has not been officially accepted by council. A ceremony will be held at that site within Highland Park. We will determine what it is that the community wants to see there; we will have to work that out together, and Pamela would reach out after the meeting about next steps.

Ben Jessome asked if there was a possibility to collaborate with the developer who owns the parcel of land at the end of Leeward that runs parallel with Everwood to establish a more considerable footprint for a future park development. Pamela indicated there hasn’t been any indication that there is a development coming, and two right of ways to their property have been established (on Leeward and Everwood) should there be any future considerations to connect the two streets. Ben was under the impression that the province would receive collaboration on the designation of HRM parkland before the park space on Everwood was approved. Pamala indicated the HRM could not wait to designate parkland for the subdivision if the developer offered land on Everwood, and the other landowner had not indicated they will be developing anything soon. Ben indicated he has been having conversations concerning increasing the capacity of park space with the assumption that Blue Mountain becomes an Urban National Park which will likely create a great deal of traffic from outside of the subdivision and we will need to accommodate that. He further indicated that the stakeholders were open to the conversation, and it was unclear why HRM approved the current site on Everwood for park space without further consideration to extend parkland at the end of Leeward without more conversation. Pamela further clarified that under the subdivision agreement, HRM accepts 5% of land from the developer for parkland which was put forward for Highland Park. Should the other landowner have shown interest in development than HRM would have had that conversation.

A community member commented that additional housing development in the area is troublesome as schools are at capacity and inquired what types of plans are needed to make sure we have capacity. Pamela said the premier has instructed HRM to build and the land has been designated for housing. There is no requirement for developers to think about infrastructure needs. No capital cost contributions exist for schools except for land acquisition. The HRM has asked to stop housing developments, and to date, it has been overruled. There is an understanding that infrastructure is needed and indicated that a new fire station in West Bedford will be developed. Pamela suggested she and Ben could come to talk to the community regarding development if there is interest.

Ben added to the conversation, indicating the HRM and province collaborate with development and schools, but it is challenging at times as the lack of size of the development may create a scenario that it is not large enough to flag a development agreement. He indicated that capacity in schools needs to dominate our priorities.

A community member indicated that if the Sandy Lake development is approved and moved forward it would also contribute to the catchment area for the school zone. Pamela indicated Kearney Lake is also approved as a potential planning area and the best way to keep up to date on development and infrastructure is to sign up for her newsletter. Another community member added to the concern about congestion in schools and roads, and they asked if we have tools (as a subdivision) to have more input and oppose some of these developments. Marion indicated that, as a subdivision, we can reach out to other areas to sit and discuss things like this, as there is greater success with larger numbers.

Budget Review

Pamela Craig reviewed the budget for 2022 and anticipated budget for 2023. For 2023, social functions will be increased from $5,000 to $7,000. For 2023 we have ~ $85,000 for future projects within the subdivision, of which $50,000 is earmarked for the Timberlane Terrace Park Phase II project. The budget will be posted on the website and approved, then submitted to HRM. Pamela asked for volunteers that are not on the board to review. Two community members indicated that they would review and approve the budget.

Highland Park Community Events

Jenny Saulnier and Owen Crowe reviewed the planned community events for 2023. Jenny is stepping down from community events and Owen will be taking over the role and the 2023 events. The community events are anticipated to be the Family Fun Day and Movie Night. No solid plans have been made to date but will be upcoming. There may be potential for organizing a public skate and other community events as well. Jenny indicated that the public skating has been not well attended in the past. It was determined that we may need to look into methods of marketing this, and other community events (for example, the community clean-up).

The 2022 Family Fun Day was well attended, but removal of snacks was not well received. Movie night was successful, but not as large of a turn-out as previous years. The board will identify all of the 2023 dates lined up as soon as possible. Tricia indicated the RA is tentatively planning a Hallowe’en Haunted Walk on the Timberlane trail in the fall as well as an Exploration of Biodiversity: Focus on Flora and Fauna walk with one of the RA’s new volunteers. Subcommittees may be set up to help facilitate those events.

Provincial Matters

Ben indicated he is interested in getting feedback on schools and the Blue Mountain Wilderness area. There is a budget session upcoming (released March 23), and he is the critic for upcoming services and youth. Ben asked if there were any questions the community would like posed to the Province on Friday, and if so to contact him directly. He highlighted that he hoped everyone had engaged with outreach material for Broad Street school and that residents can reach out to his office if questions arise. Discussions of the differences of the school was had (for example, self-directed learning, IB program, sports, shared bus scenario).

Pamela asked if Ben could give an update on the Provincial plans for the property (20 acres) between Haliburton and Highland Park provincial land between Highland Park and Haliburton. Ben indicated that although it has been identified by the province as a potential development, no applications have been made for development that he is aware of. Pamela indicated at this time she thought the province is only looking at a corridor section that would come at the end of Pinetree without an intersection extending to Hammonds Plains Road and that it would be used for mixed development. At this point there has been no decision, but that first section butting against Hammonds Plains Road will be used for commercial development. As there is no sewer line, any kind of sewer system would be local. Ben wanted to clarify that Pamela knew the answer before she asked him her question. Pamela indicated she only knew part of the answer. Pamela indicated that the other question that is concerning is the lake property at the top of Leeward that is co-owned by the landowner and the province, which could feed into the corridor connection from Highland Park to Haliburton into Eider and that she knew the province is wanting to approve development close to the corridor. There has been interest to have tiny homes. It is unclear how many applications there are, and there are the first 20 acres to develop. A community member indicated they assume as it is a Provincial update, Ben will keep them updated and to move on from the discussion.

Municipal Matters

Pamela gave an update on the Parks Canada National Urban Park. The HRM has come to agreement with Parks Canada and First Nations, and have developed contribution agreements. There will be further discussion on what the National Park boundaries will be. There is no guarantee that all the wilderness area will be included in the National Urban Park.

Pamela gave an update on the Hammonds Plains Road Corridor Study and the Lucasville intersection. The Lucasville intersection is very congested. HRM invested in digital technology to determine road use, frequency, speed, and whether cell phones will track where you came from. All this data will help inform ways to lessen the congestion that will be added to by the Sandy Lake expansion. The small church has been designated as a heritage property, which will need to be protected moving forward. The area of the golf course is being developed for seniors housing.

Pamela gave an update on the Recreation and Playing Field Strategy. There is an interest in making cricket fields, expanding baseball fields, expanding maintenance and support, and infrastructure that goes along with those playing fields (for example, parking, transit, and waste disposal). The Playing Field Strategy will be discussed at the next council meeting. The Recreation Strategy (separate from the Playing Field Strategy) was discussed. Pamela is looking to find land that includes some amenities similar to the Canada Games Center development. They are looking at getting a pump track in like one that is in Shubie Park. A community member asked why not refurbish the pump track on Leeward and asked to use that for the development. Pamela indicated that the issue with that is there would be too much traffic. Marion indicated we could look into getting provincial money to look into that as part of the rate payers’ association.

A community member asked about the St. Margaret’s center and if it was approved for expansion. It was indicated that it could not be because there is no water source, nor sufficient land. Water extensions are paid for by the developer, not Halifax water. It is unlikely piped water will be brought out to this area.

Pamela discussed tax rates. Assessments have increased again this year and are anticipated to increase again next year. HRM has been dropping the tax rate for the municipality. PVSC has indicated that roughly 25% of all appeals are approved. Therefore, if you get an assessment are not happy with it to appeal it.

Pamela provided updates on police, fire, and emergency services. Fire and emergency have had significant challenges through COVID and are seeing a loss of staff in police, fire, and transit. They are at the table negotiating with transit and have negotiated with fire (added 15 career fire fighters to rural) as well as the distribution of HRM police and RCMP and to ensure services are integrated. A community member asked Pamela what HRM is going to do about homelessness in the city. Pamela indicated that part of the issue surrounding homelessness in the HRM is the service exchange agreement between the province and municipalities. Prior to the amalgamation, the province took over community services, mental health, health care, etc. Without the development of public housing, there have been no shelters, so HRM is working with the federal government to build emergency shelters, hotel rooms, modulars, community navigators, tents, amenities, etc. HRM wants to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the province and municipality.

A community member inquired about water, sewer, homelessness, and issues surrounding increased development. He thanked Pamela and Ben for information provided but indicated that we are the Rate Payers’ Association, and we are not going to cure provincial and municipality issues during a ratepayers’ meeting. Marion indicated that it is nice to have updates from the HRM and Province at these meetings even though they are outside of the rate payers’ purview as decisions affect our subdivision down the road. The community member indicated that last summer there were surveys on Pinetree due to re-paving and there were discussions about installation of sidewalks. He further indicated, due to speeding issues on Pinetree, the presence of police would be helpful. Marion indicated that HRM has been doing studies in the opposite side of the park area on speed control and some speed bumps have been installed. Pamela indicated there is proposed crack sealing on Wynward, Pinetree, and Deepwood for 2023, but not paving, and the non-emergency number for the RCMP can be called if speeding is observed. Pamela indicated that the issue with Pinetree is the lack of space for sidewalks without repossessing land from the front yard of homeowners.

Tricia indicated a resident reached out to her with concerns about dog waste in the subdivision as well as snow clearing. Tricia asked if the concerns about dog waste could be solved by adding additional garbage cans in certain areas on the street level. She indicated that other than playgrounds, there are very few places to dispose of waste that is collected and managed by the HRM. The question about the feasibility of installing waste bag stations was also asked. Pamela addressed the dog waste concerns and indicated that the garbage cans can not be put on private land and be maintained by the HRM.

Pamela then addressed the second concern regarding snow clearing. The community member had indicated a school bus went off the road on Carmel Drive and children were on the bus for over an hour before sand trucks and other support could get the bus out of the ditch. The incident was not reported by the HRCE. The community member reached out to 311, Pamela’s office, etc. and has been told it is a priority 2 road, which is sanded. The community member inquired what makes that road sanded compared to a salted road and what was the process to changing it. They also wondered if it would it be more reasonable to go to HRCE to change the bus route. Pamela indicated it is impossible to change the designation to salt because everyone is on wells. It will continue to be sanded unless the province changes its requirements and was disappointed to hear HRCE did not report the incident, as there is nothing her office can do if it is not reported.

A community member indicated the meeting was good, even though it got off track. The community member has lived here for 24 years and indicated that it is nice to have some input on what is going to happen through the RA and would be willing to volunteer in the future.

The meeting was adjourned by Marion Gillespie