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Cole Harbour residents express concerns about proposed 500-unit development

A rendering shows the 'village green' surrounded by residential apartment buildings planned for the Shoreham Development on Cole Harbour Road. (Shoreham Development/SP Dumaresq Architect - image credit)
A rendering shows the 'village green' surrounded by residential apartment buildings planned for the Shoreham Development on Cole Harbour Road. (Shoreham Development/SP Dumaresq Architect - image credit)

A new proposal to build a long-term care facility and four apartment buildings on a busy corner in Cole Harbour was met with traffic and storm water concerns at a public meeting on Monday.

Municipal staff and consultants for the project answered questions and took feedback from a crowd of about 100 people at Cole Harbour Place.

GEM Health Care is proposing to build a new 144-bed, long-term care facility at the corner of Cole Harbour and Bissett roads, which would be the first phase of the project.

Shoreham Development also is asking to build four apartment buildings ranging from eight to 12 storeys on the site, which would be across a "village green" from the care home, and create 511 new housing units with 300 parking spaces.  A long driveway weaving through the site would provide two access points from Cole Harbour Road and Bissett Road.

Two of the buildings would be tailored to seniors, one aimed at workers for the long-term care centre, and the other open to anyone. Planning consultant Jennifer Tsang said rents have not been decided because they will depend on how many units are approved.

A site plan for the GEM long-term care and Shoreham residential development at the corner of Cole Harbour and Bissett roads
A site plan for the GEM long-term care and Shoreham residential development at the corner of Cole Harbour and Bissett roads

A site plan is shown for the GEM long-term care and Shoreham residential development at the corner of Cole Harbour and Bissett roads. (Shoreham Development/Sunrose Land Use Consulting)

But with two wetlands and watercourses on the land, many neighbours worried the development would make local flooding worse. There were also concerns about hundreds of new residents adding strain to the sewer system.

"I'm very concerned about the drainage over there being so close to the wetland and also having a huge building in front of me," Claire Mafranc said after the meeting.

Mafranc said her current Allison Drive home in the area suffered major flood damage last summer, and she just bought a new house on Ashgrove Avenue that would be adjacent to the building site.

Claire Mafranc is worried her new home on Ashgrove Avenue alongside the proposed devleopment will have flooding issues due to construction disturbing the wetland on the site.
Claire Mafranc is worried her new home on Ashgrove Avenue alongside the proposed devleopment will have flooding issues due to construction disturbing the wetland on the site.

Claire Mafranc is worried her new home on Ashgrove Avenue alongside the proposed development will have flooding issues due. (CBC)

"I'm just worried that the same thing is gonna happen again," Mafranc said.

Trish Purdy, the councillor for the area, said she plans to continue conversations with Halifax Water about what upgrades are needed, or planned, for water and wastewater infrastructure in the area.

There are other major developments coming for the local area as well, including a six-storey residential building bringing 104 units to 1200 Cole Harbour Road in front of the Shoreham proposal.

"We need to make sure the infrastructure is going to support it," Purdy said. "Otherwise the residents that are here already are going to pay the price for this and a lot of them are already paying the price here in Cole Harbour."

Many people were also worried about adding more traffic onto congested Cole Harbour Road, which can often now see people take a half an hour if turning left from Colby Village during rush hour. In the summertime, many people said Bissett Road becomes backed up with long lines of cars headed to nearby beaches.

There have long been calls for a set of lights or other improvements at the Bissett Road intersection, which staff said is being examined as part of planning for Portland Street and Cole Harbour Road.

A transportation impact study for the project said given that not everyone of the new residents will have cars, the entire development should generate about 144 trips during morning peak hours and 171 in the evening. It said most of the traffic will be headed south and have "very little impact" on the Bissett Road intersection.

Many people questioned the reality of those numbers since commercial space is planned for the bottom of the multi-unit buildings and those workers would also be driving.

Although there is one bus route going in front of the development on Cole Harbour Road, resident Nick Harris said it's not consistent enough for people to rely on.

Not 'the right community fit'

"I know we need housing, but I don't know that this is the right community fit," Harris said during the meeting. "These would be the largest buildings that I'm aware of in Cole Harbour.

Municipal planner Melissa Eavis said during the meeting that her team has asked for revisions of the traffic study, including how to keep people from using the driveway as a shortcut to avoid the Bissett intersection.

Tsang said the developer will follow the requirements for keeping storm water on site and buffer zones for wetlands and watercourses.

Stephen MacLellan's backyard would face one of the new residential buildings. MacLellan said after the meeting that many questions need to be answered.

Final report to community council

But MacLellan said he's hopeful there will be more details in the planning staff's final report and recommendation when it eventually comes before Harbour-East Marine Drive Community Council.

"We're going to wait to see what the responses are, see if it's a satisfactory response," MacLellan said.

A public hearing will be held before councillors make a final decision.

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