Would’ve restricted new government offices to downtown
Amherst is abandoning an attempt to change its land-use bylaw to restrict new government offices to the downtown.
AMHERST – Amherst is not moving ahead with a controversial bylaw that would have seen new government offices restricted to the downtown.
The motion failed to pass through second reader after a seconder did not come forward.
“Council received a lot of feedback from all over town with respect to the issue and we asked the Downtown Business Advisory committee to give us their feedback as well. At the meeting tonight there was no seconder for the motion, which essentially killed the motion to proceed. That’s the way it will proceed,” Mayor Robert Small said following the council session.
The motion passed through first reading in March and was supposed to be voted on at its April meeting, Council deferred the decision until its May meeting after being asked to by the business advisory committee so it could provide input.
While it recommended going ahead with the motion, council did not agree.
“It’s a good decision not to move forward. I met with the minister of Service Nova Scotia and he told me they always look in the downtown first before looking elsewhere. The province also has the ability to override municipal bylaws,” Deputy Mayor George Baker said. “Also, we can’t forget we’re here as a council to represent the whole town, not just part of the town.”
Small said he was pleased with the input that council received on the matter from both sides of the argument. He said most times when council asks for input it doesn’t get it.
“This was an issue in which we received lots of feedback both positive and negative,” the mayor said. “This was an idea brought forward to me by a businessman and I presented it to council for discussion. It will be no different from when we have our idea day. People are going to propose ideas that may or not be doable, but we need ideas and suggestions to move the town forward. This was one of those that didn’t move forward.”
During last Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, council heard from one presenter in favour of bylaw change while another was opposed. As well, the town received a letter from Crombie REIT asking it to turn down the motion because it would “eliminate the potential for us to attract government office tenants to Amherst Centre on a go forward basis.”
Joseph Driscoll, the company’s manager of real estate and planning for Atlantic Canada, said downtown locations might, in some situations, be preferred, but other factors may make another area more attractive.