C.B.S. has a new plan for the town's future. These residents say the document is stuck in the past

Conception Bay South Mayor Darrin Bent said the town will be meeting with the RNC about the incident.
Conception Bay South Mayor Darrin Bent says critics raise some key points but the plan is comprehensive and addresses important concerns. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The Town of Conception Bay South is working on a new vision for the Avalon Peninsula community, but the early draft of a new town plan is not going over well with some residents.

Karen Morris and Phyllis Smith say C.B.S. is missing the big picture.

"I don't think it's very comprehensive, considering it's a plan for the future," Morris told CBC News this week.

Smith said it's not a very forward-looking document.

"This municipal plan is a blueprint for the next 20 years and I see very little in it with respect to the overall growth of the town as far as being pedestrian-friendly, open space," Smith said.

Like many communities, C.B.S. is planning for more housing and greater density.

The proposed plan, released in late May, prioritizes backyard suites, multiplex units, smaller lot sizes and narrower roads.

Morris said long-term residents have already experienced what increased development does to their properties and neighbourhoods. In her view, it's nothing good.

"All of these things are going to cause increased flooding. They're going to affect our quality of life as it now exists," she said.

Loss of green space

Morris said she understands the need for backlot development and more housing options to accommodate a growing population but she worries about the loss of agricultural land and green spaces.

"You also want green space, you want trees, you want a place for people to be able to walk, to have recreation, not just have to go to the fields, but within their neighborhood," Morris said.

"We should be moving more trees in. They already come in when they do a development, take all the trees out, and then they put one tree back per lot."

Smith and Morris live in Kelligrews, where Smith said they have open ditches, little connectivity between roads, and few sidewalks.

If C.B.S. is going to talk about growth and density, Smith said the town should be looking at town's layout and the planning of its pedestrian infrastructure, and limit urban sprawl.

"[But] the town keeps expanding."

Population growing

"First sunset of Autumn did not disappoint in CBS", writes Taylor Vineham.
The town of Conception Bay South released the draft of its municipal plan in late May. (Submitted by Taylor Vineham)

C.B.S. Mayor Darrin Bent said he understands some residents' resistance to change but developments are necessary.

"Who doesn't want to live in a world that, if it's great the way it is or the way it is now around you, you like it and the communities the way it is, why not freeze that in time? But you know, that's not possible. We know that we're a growing community," Bent told CBC News.

In the 2021 census, the town's population was 27,168. Bent said that number is now approaching 30,000.

Some of Morris's and Smith's concerns are legitimate, said Bent, but the plan is comprehensive and does consider climate change. The also town requires barrier-free pedestrian connections between commercial, institutional and multi-units to allow access to the nearest sidewalks and trailways.

"This council and the council previous have spent millions of dollars over the past seven or eight years with a sidewalk enhancement program that has put sidewalks in school zones from one into town to the other to enhance the pedestrian experience and to make the community safer," Bent said.

Flooding shouldn't be an issue, he added.

"We have denied developments that are within flood zone areas which we've identified in the town. and we will continue to do that. We want to protect those waterways," he said.

The Town of C.B.S. is accepting feedback from residents on the proposed municipal plan until July 15.

"It's really got the juices flowing for some of our residents that are keen to the future of our town," Bent said.

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