To the editor:
I applaud Councillor Mosher's efforts, through her letter to the editor published July 4, to bring into the open the facts concerning the proposed extension of municipal sewer and water service along the Purcell's Cove Road. Similar information was also circulated in a mail out to all residents of the affected areas. In order for residents to participate fully in the feasibility study process, and in the democratic process this fall, it is important that residents have the facts. All the facts.
It's a fact, the HRM staff report to council of Feb. 8, 2011, states that the Purcell's Cove Road area in question has not been identified as a growth area under the Regional Plan. Ms. Mosher has stated this many times, and repeats this in her letter. It is also a fact that during the initial meetings of the steering committee, Mr. Gordon Smith, a consultant with CBCL, the firm hired to conduct the feasibility study, made it clear that the cost of providing sewer and water services to areas along the Purcell's Cove Road would be prohibitive without further development.
It's a fact; development of the Purcell's Cove/William's Lake backlands is intrinsically linked to the extension of municipal sewer and water services down the Purcell's Cove Road.
Yes, it's true, Ms. Mosher, council is not bound to act upon public opinions expressed to them through petitions. It is a fact, however, that regional council's decision to initiate the current feasibility study process was strongly influenced by the 2006 petition and the subsequent information gathering process developed by an individual living outside the affected area, "with some preliminary assistance from the District Councilor (Ms. Mosher) and staff...." It is also a fact that the results of the 2006 petition were determined to be "inconclusive" by staff. (Report to Council, Feb 8/11)
It is also fact that the residents attending the public meeting held at the Purcell's Cove Social Club on May 16, 2007 strongly and vocally opposed the undertaking of a feasibility study. Just ask any resident who attended the meeting. Staff also determined the results of this meeting to be "inconclusive".
Subsequently, further information was gathered in the form of a supplementary petition by the petition organizers "in order to help provide clarity". The amalgamation of all this information was somehow rendered as percentages used to create the Purcell's Cove Road Petition Results. (See page 4 of Feb. 8/2011 Staff Report) Clearly petitions matter, otherwise why make all this effort to get the "right" information?
Yes, it's true, Ms. Mosher, the appointment of all current steering committee members eventually followed the guidelines under the HRM appointment policy.
Here's another interesting fact. A member of the community steering committee is also vice president of a company holding 153 acres of unserviced land in the area under study. That land becomes much more valuable if it has access to municipal services. According to the Nova Scotia Municipal Conflict of Interest Act "...monetary benefits that will be received or could be received, either in cash or as an increase in asset value..." by a committee member is considered a direct pecuniary interest.
Sorry Ms Mosher, but it's a fact. That committee member is in a conflict of interest.
I sincerely hope that in the spirit of transparency all the facts will be made available as the feasibility study process continues, and when Chebucto and regional councils make decisions concerning the extension of sewer and water services down the Purcell's Cove Road.
Concerned Resident of Purcell's Cove