Efforts are underway to even the playing field for landowners across Cumberland County, and introduce a chicken or two in the process.
After decades of fiddling with land-use bylaws and introducing two former townships to its portfolio, the Municipality of Cumberland County’s land use bylaws and zoning lacked consistency and, in some instances, the historical context for some of the restrictions still in the books, like taxi stands which were once vilified as fronts for bootleggers.
All of that is expected to be cleared up soon, however. The county is working with Upland Design Studios to standardize land use bylaws across the county in a process that has sought out best practices here in Nova Scotia with using public consultation along the way.
“Our land use bylaw was already old,” municipal planner Nelson Bezanson said. “Some parts were older than others. The original land-use bylaw, like Springhill, was written in the early 90s. They all had the same flavour. They were just a product of the times. As times changed, we adopted secondary planning around Amherst, and then around the well fields, and then around Pugwash, and then Joggins. Each one was done a different time, with different councils, different planners. They were all slightly different.”
When Springhill and Parrsboro entered the picture, it added more land-sue bylaws, Bezanson said.
“Something as simple as what you consider a downtown commercial zone was written a little different for Pugwash than it was for Joggins. We knew that and we wanted to deal with that.”
Removing their own red tape, Bezanson said, is expected to open up the region for more economic development and allow landowners the freedom to do more with their properties, should they decide to. The new bylaws are to reflect today’s society, and not the image of a 1940s suburb where at-home businesses were considered a neighbourhood nuisance, or agriculture was regulated outside of communities.
“People have changed. People’s lifestyles have changed and we had heard from quite a lot of people about wanting more options for home-based businesses and the ability – and backyard chickens was the example – to have small livestock in an appropriate size lot.”
The province had lifted some barriers on some home-based business, like the need for public parking and public washrooms. Now the county is doing their part. At the end of the day, the county wants people enjoying their property to its fullest potential.
If everything goes according to plan, Bezanson says it could be as early as January when the proposed changes are presented to council for consideration.
Public open houses on the land use bylaws and zoning update will continue in Parrsboro at the service centre on Nov. 21, at the Upper Nappan Service Centre Nov. 28, and the Wentworth Recreation Centre Dec. 7.