By Marlo Glass
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A lobster holding facility proposed to be built on a prime piece of real estate overlooking Chamcook Harbour has received more than a dozen appeals, and will now go before the province’s Assessment and Planning Appeals Board.
Local opponents say the development, proposed by Sitansisk (St. Mary’s) First Nation, will lower their property values and bring unwelcome noise, odour and trucking activity to their backyard, threatening the area’s rural character and lifestyle.
But at a public meeting to discuss the project, Sitansisk fisheries director Jeremy Paul addressed many of the residents’ concerns of safety and traffic, and reminded them of the history of colonization.
“Before it was developed, it was our people,” he said. “We had the culture and heritage of the area.”
The project is slated to be built on a 1.25-acre property on Saint Andrews Road North, and includes a 7,000-square-foot lobster holding facility with two holding tanks, with a total capacity of 80,000 pounds.
At a meeting of the Southwest New Brunswick Regional Service Commission’s planning review and adjustment committee, Paul said his community has seven lobster licenses to fish for lobster in the area, and is looking to utilize the land they own to expand their fishery activity.
The “peak times” of the season will be about five months of the year, Paul said, though they may opt to hold onto some lobster stock depending on pricing trends.
Paul said the area would be frequented by one-tonne “cube vans” picking up lobster, along with the occasional tractor trailer.
The proposal is in line with “light industrial uses,” which is compatible with its rural zoning, RSC planner Alexander Gopen told the committee.
The area is zoned rural under the Chamcook rural plan bylaw, which currently dictates land use in the former local service district.
Chamcook and Bayside amalgamated with Saint Andrews on Jan. 1 as part of the province-wide local governance reforms.
Gayle Reed lives next door to the proposed location of the holding facility. She described it as “the worst possible neighbours you could have” when she spoke at a planning review and adjustment committee meeting.
“Needless to say, we’re not in support of this application,” she said, as the proposed facility “isn’t compatible” with the nearby residential developments.
Reed, along with 14 other residents, have filed appeals to the province on the committee’s decision to approve the project, she confirmed to the Telegraph-Journal. She also said she also took issue with the committee’s process in informing residents of the proposed project.
During the public meeting, Gopen said staff followed the policy of the committee, which is to send notice to residents within 200 metres of the proposed location within five days of the committee meeting to discuss the project publicly.
“It doesn’t seem like the right way to do things,” Reed said.
Gopen declined to comment on the case to the Telegraph-Journal, citing the upcoming appeal. Paul also declined to comment further for the same reason.
The project received the go-ahead from the planning review and adjustment committee, with conditions that loading and unloading should occur between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., any dead animal waste should be stored in “sealed, odour-proof containers inside the facility or in a refrigerated trailer” before being disposed off-site, to create a landscaped buffer, and to keep the property “neat and orderly,” among others.
But since that decision has been challenged, it will now go to a hearing in front of the province’s Assessment and Planning Appeal Board, which will render its own decision.
Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson said the town will look to see if it can weigh in on the appeal process as “a number” of its citizens are concerned.
“In a perfect world we already would have been through amalgamation at that time, and residents would have had a better voice at the table through the municipality,” he said.
Reed says local governance reform gives the community a chance to plan for the future.
“What do we want our community to look like?” she said.
Marlo Glass is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL. The LJI program is federally funded.